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i-0ef19062c876c54a13f549286548780c-0505152246371patrick_liger.jpgLigers are known in popular culture for being pretty much Napoleon Dynamite’s favorite animal, but a lesser known fact is that the lion-tiger hybrids are actually the largest of the big cats, more massive than either parent due to a quirk of genetics. As Razib explains on Gene Expression, parental imprinting is responsible for the difference in size: Imprinted genes from female lions usually keep “largeness” genes from the males in check, but female tigers have had no selective pressure to evolve such genes. The resulting offspring of a tiger mother and a lion father are the oversized ligers. For lovers of big cats, Brian Switek also offers some of his favorite feline photos on Laelaps.

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