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8 Awesome Animals With Manes (+ Pictures)

animals with manes

8 Awesome Animals With Manes (+ Pictures)

The mane, a swath of hair that predominantly grows around an animal’s neck and shoulders, though it can occasionally be found elsewhere on the body, is a curious feature of many creatures.

From long, flowing hairs to short, upright tufts, the textures and lengths vary as widely as the animals themselves.

But why do some animals have manes? For some animals, there’s a clear-cut reason for having a mane, but for others, it’s still a bit of a mystery.

In this article, we’ll learn more about eight mane-bearing animals, uncovering known facts and engaging in some fascinating speculations.

Animals With Manes


a male lion with large brown mane

Lions, the quintessential “maned” animals, are probably what first spring to mind when considering the topic. These iconic predators are distinguished from other large felines by a striking halo of hair encircling their heads, a characteristic feature known as a mane.

Contrary to popular belief, not all lions boast this impressive feature. It’s exclusively a male attribute, absent in lionesses. But have you ever wondered the reason behind a lion’s mane? What purpose does it serve?

Beginning to develop around their first birthday, a lion’s mane serves a vital role as a natural armor, providing an additional layer of protection during combat with rival lions. Think of it as a built-in helmet and shoulder pads, facilitating these majestic beasts’ survival in the harsh world of the African savannah.

However, manes are also an important factor in the game of love. Namely, when it comes to selecting partners, lionesses show a clear preference for males sporting longer, fuller manes, viewing them as superior mates.

Moreover, a lion’s mane serves as a visible testament to its overall health, fighting prowess, and even genetic makeup. The size, darkness, and health of a lion’s mane offer an indication of the animal’s fighting success, testosterone levels, and genetic health. The longer and darker the mane, the greater the lion’s success in combat and the healthier it generally is.

Related: Animals With Scales

Maned Wolves

brown maned wolf with white ears and black back hair

Maned wolves are captivating animals that carry a dose of intrigue and mystique. At first glance, their physical characteristics might make you mistake them for foxes, but despite their deceptive name, they’re neither wolves nor foxes.

The maned wolf holds a unique position as the lone species under the genus Chrysocyon – a title that translates to ‘golden dog’. A testament to their vibrant russet coat, perhaps?

They’re typically solitary creatures that call the open environments of South America their home, favoring expansive grasslands and scrub forests. If you’re ever in the region, you might be fortunate enough to spot one of these majestic animals in its natural habitat.

A defining characteristic of the maned wolf is its dark, black mane that runs along its neck and over its shoulders, lending the animal its distinctive name. More than just a striking visual feature, this mane plays a role in the animal’s defense mechanisms.

When a maned wolf perceives a threat, its mane stands erect, visually enhancing its size and possibly intimidating predators. However, besides this defensive display, there are no known additional specific functions.


black and white zebra standing in the wild

Zebras, one of Africa’s most iconic wild species, are instantly recognizable by their unique black and white striped coats. These vibrant patterns distinguish zebras from their close relatives – donkeys and horses.

But the uniqueness of zebras doesn’t stop with their striped patterns. Unlike domestic horses, which typically flaunt long, soft manes, zebras sport shorter, stiffer manes that stand upright. This characteristic, a distinct departure from the flowing tresses of their equine cousins, is prevalent among all zebras, regardless of their age or sex.

But why would zebras evolve such a different mane style? Scientists speculate that the erect mane could function as a natural deterrent against predator attacks, specifically to the neck. It acts as a protective barrier, possibly discouraging or even preventing predators from landing a successful neck bite.

Considering that the zebra’s main predator, the lion, often targets the neck in its attacks, this hypothesis carries weight. So, the zebra’s upright mane is more than a distinct aesthetic feature – it’s a potential life-saver in the wild.

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a brown horse with brown mane

Horse manes are often seen as a symbol of beauty and elegance, an accessory that adds to a horse’s aesthetic appeal. However, beyond the visual allure, a horse’s mane plays several roles that are integral to the animal’s survival and well-being.

The mane serves as a natural climate control system, offering protection from both scorching heat and bitter cold. On sun-drenched days, it acts like a built-in sunshade, providing a protective cover against harmful UV rays. In contrast, during the icy grip of winter, the mane morphs into a warm blanket, trapping body heat and providing a much-needed thermal shield.

Protection from physical harm is another critical function of the horse’s mane. Predators often target the neck in their attacks, a vulnerable area that, if hit, could be fatal. A thick, bushy mane provides a layer of natural armor, potentially giving the horse a fighting chance to escape unscathed should it face a predator’s assault.

In addition, a horse’s mane also comes in handy in the never-ending battle against pests. Despite their tails being the primary line of defense against irritating insects, horses often resort to shaking their manes to dislodge any stubborn bugs.

Lion-tailed Macaque

black lion-tailed macaque chewing a small branch

The lion-tailed macaque is a truly distinctive species of monkey. Their most defining feature is their silver-white mane, which surround their head and trails down to their chin, lending them a bearded appearance and earning them the nickname “beard apes”.

The name “lion-tailed” originates from their medium-length tail adorned with a black tuft at the end, a feature eerily reminiscent of a lion’s tail. 

The functional importance of the mane in lion-tailed macaques, however, is not completely known. It is believed that it serves as a natural rain shield. These monkeys live in forests that are often subject to heavy seasonal rains, particularly monsoons.

Read Also: List of Animals With Fur


brown and black giraffe under white clouds

There are some animal traits that continue to puzzle biologists, and the purpose of the giraffe’s mane is one such enigma.

Giraffes are known for their towering height, long necks, and a line of short, erect hairs running along the upper edge of their necks. These hairs, which make up the giraffe’s mane, are quite short – not enough to offer substantial protection against bugs or predators.

So, what could be the purpose of a giraffe’s mane? The most prominent theory suggests that the mane might play a part in sexual selection.

Leading by examples of other species, we know that a thick, long mane can often be a sign of health and virility, making an animal more appealing to potential mates. Could this be the case with giraffes? It’s a compelling hypothesis.

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black wildebeest on brown field

Wildebeests, also called gnus, are large grass-eating animals native to Eastern and Southern parts of Africa. With their imposing horns, broad muzzles, and bushy tails, gnus are easily distinguishable from other wildlife in the region.

Another notable physical trait of wildebeests, both the black and blue species, is the thick, shaggy mane that adorns the upper edge of their necks. In addition to this, these magnificent creatures possess a lengthy beard-like growth of hair extending from their chests, which sets them apart from other antelope species.

Since manes are present in both males and females, it is believed that these neck hairs serve as an evolutionary adaptation to protect the animal from potential neck bites during predator attacks.

Maned Sloths

The maned sloth, also known as the Brazilian sloth, is a unique species among the four three-toed sloths. This exclusive creature calls the sweltering, humid environment of the Atlantic coastal rainforests of Brazil its home.

What sets the maned sloth apart from its brethren is the long black mane of hair that graces its neck and shoulders, a physical characteristic that inspired its name. Still, despite this distinctive feature, in many ways, the maned sloth is not different from other sloths.

They lead a slow-paced, languid life, often spotted dangling upside down from branches, and are notorious for spending roughly 80% of their day in peaceful slumber.

The purpose of mane hair, apart from distinguishing males from females (males have a darker and larger mane), remains undefined.

Final Thoughts

In the diverse animal kingdom, the function of a mane varies widely. For some creatures, it acts as a natural armor, protecting them from potential onslaughts. In others, it plays a crucial role in sexual selection, enhancing an individual’s appeal to potential mates.

Yet, in certain species, the exact purpose of a mane remains a tantalizing mystery, challenging our understanding of animal biology. However, one thing is sure – the realm of wildlife never fails to surprise us.

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