Does it give them protections from harm?

Sphynx cats, being furless, can get hurt from thorns if they go through bushes

So I'm assuming it's more like defense from animals biting them.

A lion mane is attraction for females and protection on the neck since most predators go after the throat.

Why do only lions have manes for protection and not other cats like domestic cats?

  • $\begingroup$ Could you specify one question? Fur and feathers, or the lion mane? $\endgroup$ – rachelette Jan 21 '18 at 15:06
  • $\begingroup$ Im justing asking the fur and feathers for animals gives them protection from predators simailr of lion Manes for their neck $\endgroup$ – Gian Jan 21 '18 at 15:21
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    $\begingroup$ short answer insulation. $\endgroup$ – John Jan 21 '18 at 17:26
  • $\begingroup$ you have to think this out for yourself Gian, read some stuff. It's mechanical and thermal. you have to read a lot about evolution of fur and feathers, you'd learn a lot!!! $\endgroup$ – DeltaEnfieldWaid Jan 24 '18 at 4:44

The nice thing about studying evolution is that questions like this can be answered with replicates of history. There are two groups of homeotherms; Birds, and mammals. Both these groups require an enormous amount of food to fuel this self-generated heat. Body heat is too expensive to throw away. So fir and feathers are convergent examples of insulation to keep this hard-won heat in. That there are many examples of feathered dinosaurs that could not fly implies that feathers were not originally for flying.

  • $\begingroup$ but whats the purpose can the fur and feathers also be protection from wounds from predators like the claws wont get to close to the skin $\endgroup$ – Gian Jan 21 '18 at 16:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Gian: Of course. Evolution is not simple engineering, where something only does one thing. For instance, a mammalian ancestor probably evolved fur for insulation. Later, some species evolved it futher as protection (thick fur), camoflage, sexual adornment (the lion's mane), weaponry (rhinoceros horn), &c. Birds went even further, evolving insulating feathers into flight structures & sexual adornments like the peacock's tail. $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 21 '18 at 21:34
  • $\begingroup$ @Gian the technical term for what jamesqf is explaining is called exaptation. $\endgroup$ – rachelette Jan 22 '18 at 0:13
  • $\begingroup$ ...also... in the case of lions it looks like the evolution of the male's larger mane has been influenced by additional factors other than heat regulation, as described in this article: science.sciencemag.org/content/297/5585/1339 $\endgroup$ – rachelette Jan 22 '18 at 0:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Gian: Much as I appreciate Kipling, he's not an authority on animal biology, at least in the rather egotistical voice of Shere Khan. Fairly short fur isn't much protection against claws: just ask my dog :-) $\endgroup$ – jamesqf Jan 22 '18 at 5:21

I'm more up on hairs than feathers so I'll answer with respect to fur -

PFA Maderson in American Zoologist, 1972, suggests that mammalian hairs began as mechano-sensory organs and later gained sufficient density to function as insulation -

A chance mutation led to subsequent multiplication of the originally sparsely, but spatially arranged papillae, causing the induction of a sufficient density of "sensory hairs" to constitute an insulatory body covering.

This is a function which has not been lost - it may be a defining characteristic of mammalian hairs that they act, via follicular nerves, as sensory organs. In humans the density of follicular nerve supply is especially high, enough for W.Montagna, "Evolution of Human Skin", 1985, to liken them, regardless of size or location, to the dedicated feeler hairs - vibrissae - of related apes - which makes the sensory function the principle one most of the hairs on modern humans serve. As I suggest they probably are the principle function of hairs of other "hairless" species like Hippopotamus, Elephants, Mole Rats - which, like humans, are not actually hairless.

A whole range of functions besides sensory became possible once hairs evolved, including insulation, water shedding, protection from direct sunlight and physical abrasion, visual signalling/communications and dispersal of pheromones. Mammals managed to evolve and use them all. Manes in lions are probably signalling (of male sexual maturity and sexual fitness) rather than protective.


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