Lion paws have an extra joint compared to other cats, and this gives them extra range-of-motion. Thanks to this additional range, lions can sink their claws deeper into prey than any other mammal, and they can hang on through a huge amount thrashing and struggling. Their broad pads that allow for silent movement also provide a huge surface area to back up a swipe with the claws, and combined with the massive forebody muscling, this allows lions to deliver a blow strong enough to break a zebra’s back.
The Hand; its Mechanism and Vital Endowments, as Evincing Design. Sir Charles Bell, 1854.