Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Canada lynx’

Why is the Canada lynx a distinct species?

canada lynx

For many years, there was a bit of debate about how many Lynx species there were. In the 1980s,  the Canadian lynx and the Eurasian lynx  were thought to represent a single species.

The Canada lynx is not a northern bobcat, as one might think. These cats are very similar to each other in size, and it actually gets quick touchy trying tease apart historical accounts of bobcats and lynx in North America.

But bobcats come from earlier invasion of the Lynx lineage that came into North America between 2-5 million years ago. The Canada lynx came about when an ancestral Eurasian lynx came into North America within the past 200,000 years. The Canada lynx is more closely related to the modern Eurasian lynx than to the bobcat.

Compared to the bobcat and Eurasian lynx, the Canada lynx is a bit weird. Eurasian lynx and bobcats are very much generalist predators. The Canada lynx is a super specialized predator. They pretty much live on snowshoe hares alone, and their populations track the snowshoe hare population cycles. It is pretty weird that this animal has hitched itself to such a tenuous prey species.

One could make the case that the Canada lynx is nothing more than a specialized Eurasian lynx, even though it is significant smaller.

I think this is a bit hard to justify. For one thing, there is absolutely no gene flow between Eurasian lynx and Canada lynx, except in captivity. Canada lynx, bobcats, and Eurasian lynx all can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, but unless the Bering Land Bridge appears again, there is no way for Eurasian lynx to arrive to hybridize with them.

I also don’t think there is any way to get around the super-specialized body of the Canada lynx, which is long-legged and big-pawed. It’s also a lot smaller than the Eurasian lynx.

So I think it is hard to get around the simple fact that this animal is distinct enough to be a species, even it can hybridize with bobcats and Eurasian lynx.

Read Full Post »

A perfect pet, eh?

I wonder what happens when you try to take his chicken away.

Source.

Read Full Post »

Source.

One dead moose sure can feed a lot of creatures!

Read Full Post »

Edwardian-lynx-c-Bristol-Museum-Art-Gallery-600-px-tiny-April-2013

Ab4458 the Edwardian lynx. Photo (c) Bristol Museum & Art Gallery. From Tetrapod Zoology.  

An errant Canada lynx was killed in the English county of Devon in 1903.

Darren Naish writes in the Tetrapod Zoology blog:

For over 100 years, a potentially significant dead cat has been sat in storage in a British museum. Specifically, the specimen – the lynx Ab4458 – has been at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery ever since it was added to the collections there in February 1903, and what makes it significant is that it was shot dead after living wild in Devon, southern England. As revealed in a new paper published by Aberystwyth University’s Max Blake and a team of colleagues (myself, Greger Larson, Charlotte King, Geoff Nowell, Manabu Sakamoto and Ross Barnett), the specimen represents a historic ‘British big cat’, though with ‘big cat’ being used very much in the vernacular sense, not the technical one (Blake et al. 2013).

***

For over 100 years, a potentially significant dead cat has been sat in storage in a British museum. Specifically, the specimen – the lynx Ab4458 – has been at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery ever since it was added to the collections there in February 1903, and what makes it significant is that it was shot dead after living wild in Devon, southern England. As revealed in a new paper published by Aberystwyth University’s Max Blake and a team of colleagues (myself, Greger Larson, Charlotte King, Geoff Nowell, Manabu Sakamoto and Ross Barnett), the specimen represents a historic ‘British big cat’, though with ‘big cat’ being used very much in the vernacular sense, not the technical one (Blake et al. 2013).

A lynx of any species would not technically be a big cat. The term “big cat” in the taxonomic sense applies only to the cats in the genus Panthera (the tiger, the lion, the jaguar, the leopard, and now, the snow leopard) and the two species of clouded leopard. All other cats are technically “small cats,” which means that the cougar, the largest of the small cats, is actually larger than the smallest of the big cats, the mainland clouded leopard.

This particular lynx caused quite a stir before it was it was killed.

Accession documents at the museum describe how it was shot dead by a ‘Mr Heb’ (the handwriting in the accession catalogue is difficult to read and this name might be wrong) after killing two dogs. It was then donated to the museum by a Mr J. Niblet of Newton Abbot, Devon. The geographical origin of the specimen is given as ‘Newton Abbot’. Foreign specimens are clearly marked with a place of origin, so we have to conclude that the cat really did come from Devon.

No one really paid much attention to this cat until 2011, when Max Blake, a student at the University of Bristol, found it while doing volunteer curatorial work at the museum. The animal was quite clearly not a Eurasian lynx, as everyone had initially assumed.

Blake, who was then studying zoology, knew it either had to belong to one of the two New World species of lynx, the bobcat or the Canada lynx.

But the animal appeared to have a mixture of both Canada lynx and bobcat features. The cat had just enough facial markings to suggest that it was a bobcat, and thus, it could have belonged to one of the northern subspecies of bobcat.

When I initially heard of this case back in 2011, I thought it was a northern bobcat, not just for those reasons, but because it is virtually unheard of for a Canada lynx to attack dogs. Bobcats, however, are much more aggressive animals, and in the wild, the larger subspecies are known for hunting mule and white-tailed deer. Canada lynx are rangier than bobcats, but they are actually lighter in weight than the largest subspecies of bobcat. And their diet consists of almost nothing but snowshoe hare. (Canada lynx are about the most bizarre cat species I can think of).

The researchers were unable to extract any DNA from the specimen, but the museum did still have its bones on file. After a careful morphological analysis of its skull, it was determined that the cat was indeed a Canada lynx.

This lynx had very worn out teeth, which suggests that is was of advanced age when it was killed. It also might explain why it was so willing to attack the dogs. It was desperate for some sort of sustenance, and dogs may have been the only suitable prey available.

Analysis of the teeth revealed it likely hadn’t been living on its own for very long:

Examined with all of this in mind, Ab4458 lost its incisors during its lifetime. New bone then overgrew the alveoli*. Thick build-ups of calculus are present on its lower and upper premolars. Based on this data, we conclude that Ab4458 suffered from periodontal disease and – based on all that calculus – lived a life of 10 or 11 (or so) years in captivity during which it fed on soft, non-abrasive foods. In conclusion, we couldn’t find any evidence here that the animal lived for a long time in the wild. Rather, it had been a captive animal for years (Blake et al. 2013).

So someone in Devon had been keeping a pet lynx for quite some time. It then was either released or got loose when it was about 10 or 11 years old.

My guess is this cat came from Newfoundland. Devon and Dorset were the English home counties for a large number of fishermen who fished off Newfoundland’s Grand Banks.  Newfoundland English is heavily influenced by the dialects from that part of England, where the people sound like stereotypical pirates.

Perhaps a Devon fishermen brought home a lynx kitten for his children as a souvenir from his travels. The cat was probably a beloved pet for a few months. Then maybe it got a bit aggressive, and its owners moved it to the backyard, where it remained for the rest of its life.

Until it escaped or was set free.

Read Full Post »

Source.

Canada lynx and bobcats really don’t belong in the pet trade.

They might be somewhat easy to breed and feed, but their needs are usually too much for the average person. Most of the ones available on the pet market descend from ancestors that were bred for the fur trade.

And the fact that they are wild animals that have a lot of power for their size just makes the inappropriate as pets.

Declawing such animals might make sense in this context, but for a species that is known for producing such a copious undercoat, a Canada lynx needs all the grooming equipment at its disposal.

And never mind that declawing is a very painful procedure.

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

These TheWildNorth videos are addictive:

Source.

Read Full Post »

Canada lynx trapping

Source.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: