Pride Lands Online
Lion Numeric System

Lions can count

Fig. 1: Oranges
After long and intensive bahavioral analysing of lions (panthera leo), our scientists have discovered a surprising fact. Lions are able to understand terms at high abstartaction level, e.g. numbers. It's not sure how and when did lions get this fascinating skill. However, many fossils proved lions were able to count a long time before first humans developped brain bigger than an orange (fig. 1) - which is the lowest mass allowing abstract thinking. This means, humans are no longer the first inteligent species on the Earth.


The Lion Numeric System (LNS) is very sofisticated, compared to the way humans count. The decimal numeric system humans use is based on number of fingers - 10, which almost every human being possesses. Humans tend to use fingers to help them count.

Fig. 2: A dewclaw
On the other hand, a lion forepaw has 5 claws, back paws have 4 claws each. The problem lions are facing is, that one of their forepaw claws - a dewclaw (fig. 2), is placed higher on the paw, which makes it rather hard to use. However, this fact didn't force the lions develop just octal numeric system (digits from 0 to 7), which will be less practical than decimal. This simple solution didn't satisfy lions enough. The LNS is much better than silly octal numbers and allows lions to count easily up to very big numbers. A lion can count up to incredible 65535 just on his four paws - that's something humans can only dream about.

How do they do that?

Fig. 3: A pawprint
The answer is simple. Lions use all combinations of extended/retracted claws on each paw. With four claws, this makes 24 combinations - which is equal numbers from 0 to 15. Yes, for a lion, numbers 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 are each considered a single digit! The conversion of LNS to human understable format is easy. From the point of view of the counting lion, the claw on the right (LSC - Less Significant Claw) has value of 20=1, the second from the right has value of 21=2, the second from the left has value of 22=4 and the left claw (MSC - Most Significant Claw) has value of 23=8 (fig. 3). The total sum of values belonging to each extended claw is the number shown on the paw. This applies to right forepaw. The left forepaw is used the same way, just the numbers on this paw are four claws shifted to the left - that means, multiplied by 16. Just on forepaws a lion can count up to 15*16+15=255. Rear paws are used the same way, also shifted. Two lions standing next to each other can count to much higher numbers, whole pride can have maximal number higher than our computers can count with. A pride of lions can also use paralelisms to count faster.

Fig. 4: A lion showing number 8 on his left paw,
128 in total.
Because of problems with extending just some claws, many lions use their whole fingers like humans do (fig. 4). The lions can also write digits by making pawprints in mud, which can keep the calculations for a long time after drying. After rains, lions can be seen walking slowly and thoughtfully back and forth in mud. This doesn't help them get rid of parasites living on their paws, they are just doing complex calculations - usually estimating numbers of prey.

Simba's Calculator

Fig. 5: Simba's Calculator
To allow you study and better understand the LNS, our team has developped a special calculator for Windows. It's freely available and easily configurable. To get your own Simba's Calculator (fig. 5), follow these steps:

  1. Create a directory to store the calculator to - e.g. C:\SIMBACAL
  2. Download the calculator to this directory
  3. Execute the file SC.EXE - the calculator will uncompress
  4. To save disk space, delete file SC.EXE
  5. Now just run SIMBACAL.EXE. The calculator should appear on your screen.
  6. You can also add the file SIMBACAL.EXE to your desktop to make it easier available

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