I'm doing a bit of copy editing on some work, and ran into a sentence that I feel is poorly constructed; however, the author insists that there is no error and that the supposed error in question is a style choice.
I've included the quote; however, I've swapped out the proper nouns for anonymity's sake, so whether or not the sentence is factual is irrelevant.
Panthera leo senegalensis are the most endangered of lions, residents of Africa.
I feel as if though something is wrong with the phrase "...of lions," but I can't put my finger on the exact rule.
Adding the definite article "the" feels as if though it would help: "...most endangered of the lions." However, from what I understand, the use of a definite article before a plural pronoun indicates the scope, and its use is optional dependent upon the meaning. Therefore, this would change the meaning of the sentence from all lions to a specific subset, "the lions."
So what I'm really wondering is if there's a grammatical rule I can cite that says "of" must be omitted in the sentence, if the definite article is not present. Or perhaps despite reading awkwardly this sentence is still grammatically correct, and it is in fact a style choice?
I also feel as if "...residents of Africa." is a dangling modifier, but in the sentence it is meant to modify lions (not Panthera leo senegalensis) so I'm not sure again if there is a syntax error, or if this is simply an awkward choice of wording.