Every creature has its own distinct markings. These are more than just glorious natural works of art… Where big cats are concerned, you might have noticed that their faces feature some interesting patterns. With each one performing a vital function in the survival of each species, we thought we’d share the differences between the white markings on the face of a lion and the black markings on the face of a cheetah. 

A lion and its white lines

Although diurnal, lions are predominantly active at night. Those little white marks below their eyes are what we like to call reflective strips. These aid in facilitating the refraction of any available light into the eye, stimulating the pixel of the image. Essentially, a lion only needs 1/6 of the light we need to see in the dark. Making these markings a booster to help them with hunting. Most nocturnal animals will have these markings, so if you spot them whilst on safari, you’ll have a good idea of their daily movements. 

A cheetah and its signature black tear marks

Unlike most big cats, cheetahs are most active during the early hours of the morning or late in the afternoon. Their trademark black lines look like tear marks and perform a very important function. Contrary to the popular myth, these don’t absorb light. What they actually do is enhance their facial expressions, giving the illusion of a more formidable opponent. As smaller, more timid carnivores, these lines give them a bit of an extra advantage during face-offs with other predators.

See them up close and in the flesh 

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