Brief Summary

Four species belong to genus Lynx, medium-sized wildcats in the cat family Felidae: the Eurasian lynx (L. lynx), the Canada lynx (L. canadensis), the Iberian lynx (L. pardinus), and the bobcat (L. rufus).  Other cats are commonly called lynx (for e.g. Caracal caracal, the desert or African lynx, or caracal, and Felis chaus, the swamp lynx or jungle cat) but do not belong to the Lynx genus.

Lynx have short tails and the characteristic tufts of black hair on the tips of their ears.  They have a somewhat hidden black-barred ruff under the neck, large, padded paws for walking on snow, and long whiskers on the face.  Their fur color varies from brown to beige with some brown markings on the limbs and white fur on their chests, bellies and on the insides of their legs.  Fur coloring, fur height and paw size varies by climate range; in colder northern climates, lynx tend to have progressively thicker and lighter-colored fur, and larger, more padded paws.  The smallest of the lynx (bobcats) grow to between 7.3 to 14 kilograms (16 to 31 lb), and the largest (the Eurasian lynx) reach18 to 30 kilograms (40 to 66 lb). 

Lynx inhabit high altitude boreal forests with dense cover of shrubs, reeds, and tall grass and northern taiga.  Bobcats also live in temperate forests, swamp and desert scrublands.  Although they hunt mainly on the ground, lynx can climb trees and can swim.

Lynx are usually solitary, living in dens in crevices or under ledges.  Mating occurs in late winter and females give birth to between two and four kittens after a gestation of about 70 days.  The young stay with the mother for one more winter, a total of around nine months, before moving out to live on their own as young adults.  The large, Eurasian lynx feed primarily on ungulates though also prey on a wide range of animals such as hares, birds, foxes, squirrels, sheep goats, and rodents.  Bobcats also prey on ungulates to some degree.  The other lynx species are specialists on hares and rabbits; the Iberian lynx, which is critically endangered and limited to just a few small, isolated populations in southwest Spain, feeds exclusively on rabbits, numbers of which are declining, one negative affect on L. pardinus populations.  Northern populations of Canada lynx are well-known for their regular 10-year population cycles which follow those of its prey, the snowshoe hare (Lepus americanus).

American lynx species have managed harvests for their fur; trade in Eurasian lynx has stopped although illegal skin trade is one of the greatest threats to this species. 

(Wikipedia 2014; Breitenmoser et al. 2008; Kelly et al 2008; Nowell 2008, O’Brien and Johnson 2005; Von Arx and Breitenmoser 2008)

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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Statistics of barcoding coverage

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLD) Stats
Specimen Records:44
Specimens with Sequences:75
Specimens with Barcodes:31
Species With Barcodes:4
Public Records:10
Public Species:3
Public BINs:4
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A lynx (play /ˈlɪŋks/;[2] plural lynx or lynxes[3]) is any of the four species within the Lynx genus of medium-sized wildcats. The name "lynx" originated in Middle English via Latin from Greek word "λύγξ",[2] derived from the Indo-European root "*leuk-", meaning "light, brightness",[4] in reference to the luminescence of its reflective eyes.[4] There is considerable confusion about the best way to classify felids at present, and some authorities classify them as part of the genus Felis.

Neither the caracal, sometimes called the Persian lynx or African lynx, nor the jungle cat, called the swamp lynx, is a member of the Lynx genus.



The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx)

Lynx have short tails and the characteristic tufts of black hair on the tips of their ears. They have a ruff under the neck, which has black bars, is not very visible, and resembles a bow tie. They have large, padded paws for walking on snow, and long whiskers on the face.

Their body colour varies from medium brown, to goldish, to beige-white, and is occasionally marked with dark brown spots, especially on the limbs. All species of lynx also have white fur on their chests, bellies and on the insides of their legs, which are extensions of the chest and belly fur. Also, the lynx's colouring, fur height and paw size varies by its climate range—in the Southwestern United States, the fur and colour are short-haired, dark and the paws are smaller and less padded; as the lynx ranges to its colder northern climates, the fur gets progressively thicker (for warmth), the colour gets lighter (for camouflage) and its paws enlarge and become more padded (for snowy environments). The paws may become larger than a human hand or foot.

The smallest species are the bobcat and the Canada lynx, while the largest is the Eurasian lynx, with considerable variations within species.

Physical characteristics of Lynx species
SpeciesWeightLengthHeight (standing at shoulders)
Eurasian lynxmales18 to 30 kilograms (40 to 66 lb)81 to 129 centimetres (32 to 51 in)70 centimetres (28 in)[5]
females18 kilograms (40 lb)
Canada Lynx8 to 11 kilograms (18 to 24 lb)80 to 105 centimetres (31 to 41 in)48 to 56 centimetres (19 to 22 in)[6]
Iberian lynxmales12.9 kilograms (28 lb)85 to 110 centimetres (33 to 43 in)60 to 70 centimetres (24 to 28 in)[7][8][9]
females9.4 kilograms (21 lb)
Bobcatmales7.3 to 14 kilograms (16 to 31 lb)[10]71 to 100 centimetres (28 to 39 in)[10]51 to 61 centimetres (20 to 24 in)[11]
females9.1 kilograms (20 lb)


The four living species of the Lynx genus are believed to have evolved from the "Issoire lynx", which lived in Europe and Africa during the late Pliocene to early Pleistocene. The Pliocene felid Felis rexroadensis from North America has been proposed as an even earlier ancestor; however, this was larger than any living species, and is not currently classified as a true lynx.[12]

Eurasian lynx

The Eurasian lynx

The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) is the biggest of the lynxes. It is native to European and Siberian forests. While its conservation status has been classified as "Least Concern", populations of Eurasian lynx have been reduced or extirpated from western Europe, where it is now being reintroduced.

During the summer, the Eurasian lynx has a relatively short, reddish or brown coat, which is replaced by a much thicker silver-grey to greyish-brown coat during winter. The lynx hunts by stalking and jumping its prey, helped by the rugged, forested country in which it resides. A favorite prey for the Lynx in its woodland habitat is Roe Deer they will feed however on whatever animal appears easiest as they are opportunistic predators much like their cousins.[12]

Canada lynx

Canada lynx

The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) or Canadian lynx is a North American felid. It ranges in forest and tundra regions[13] across Canada and into Alaska, as well as some parts of the northern United States. By 2010, after an 11-year effort, it had been successfully reintroduced into Colorado, where it had become extirpated in the 1970s.[14][15][16] In 2000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the Canada lynx a threatened species in the lower 48 states.[17]

Canada lynx are good climbers and swimmers; they construct rough shelters under fallen trees or rock ledges. They have thick coats and broad paws, and are twice as effective as bobcats at supporting their weight on the snow. The Canada lynx's diet is almost exclusive to and dependent on snowshoe hares and their numbers. They will also hunt medium-sized mammals and birds if hare numbers fall.[13]

Iberian lynx

Iberian lynx

The Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) is a critically endangered species native to the Iberian Peninsula in Southern Europe. It is the most endangered cat species in the world.[18] According to the conservation group SOS Lynx, if this species died out, it would be the first feline extinction since the Smilodon 10,000 years ago.[19] The species used to be classified as a subspecies of the Eurasian lynx, but is now considered a separate species. Both species occurred together in central Europe in the Pleistocene epoch, being separated by habitat choice.[7] The Iberian lynx is believed to have evolved from Lynx issiodorensis.[20]



The bobcat (Lynx rufus) is a North American wildcat. With 12 recognized subspecies, bobcats are common throughout southern Canada, the continental United States, and northern Mexico.[21] The bobcat is an adaptable predator that inhabits deciduous, coniferous, or mixed woodlands, but unlike other Lynx, does not depend exclusively on the deep forest, and ranges from swamps and desert lands to mountainous and agricultural areas, its spotted coat serving as camouflage.[22] The population of the bobcat depends primarily on the population of its prey.[23] Nonetheless, bobcats are often killed by larger predators such as coyotes.[24]

The bobcat resembles other species of the Lynx genus, but is on average the smallest of the four. Its coat is variable, though generally tan to grayish brown, with black streaks on the body and dark bars on the forelegs and tail. The ears are black-tipped and pointed, with short, black tufts. There is generally an off-white color on the lips, chin, and underparts. Bobcats in the desert regions of the southwest have the lightest-colored coats, while those in the northern, forested regions are darkest.[11]


Lynx are usually solitary, although a small group of lynx may travel and hunt together occasionally. Mating takes place in the late winter and they give birth from two to four kittens once a year. The gestation time of lynx is about 70 days. The young stay with the mother for one more winter, a total of around nine months, before they move out to live on their own as young adults. Lynx will create their dens in crevices or under ledges. They also feed on a wide range of animals, from white-tailed deer, reindeer, roe deer, small red deer, and chamois, to smaller, more usual prey: snowshoe hares, fish, foxes, sheep, squirrels, mice, turkeys and other birds, and goats. They also eat ptarmigan, voles and grouse.

Distribution and habitat

Lynx inhabit high altitude forests with dense cover of shrubs, reeds, and tall grass. Although the cats hunt on the ground, they can climb trees and can swim swiftly, catching fish.

Europe and Asia

The Eurasian lynx ranges from central and northern Europe across Asia up to India . Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Eurasian lynx was considered extinct in the wild in Slovenia and Croatia. A resettlement project, begun in 1973, has successfully reintroduced lynx to the Slovenian Alps and the Croatian regions of Gorski Kotar and Velebit, including Croatia's Plitvice Lakes National Park and Risnjak National Park. In both countries, the lynx is listed as an endangered species and protected by law.

Several lynx resettlement projects begun in the 1970s have been successful in various regions of Switzerland. Since the 1990s, there have been numerous efforts to resettle the Eurasian lynx in Germany, and since 2000, a small population can now be found in the Harz mountains near Bad Lauterberg.

Lynx are found in the Białowieża Forest in northeastern Poland, in Estonia and in the northern and western parts of China, particularly the Tibetan Plateau. In Romania, the numbers exceed 2,000, the largest population in Europe outside of Russia, although most experts consider the official population numbers to be overestimated.[25]

Lynx are more common in northern Europe, especially in Sweden, Estonia, Finland, and the northern parts of Russia. The Swedish population is estimated to be 1200–1500 individuals, spread all over the country, but more common in middle Sweden and in the mountain range. The lynx population in Finland was 1900–2100 individuals in 2008, and the numbers have been increasing every year since 1992. The lynx population in Finland is estimated currently to be larger than ever before.[26] Lynx in Britain were wiped out in the 17th century, but there have been calls to reintroduce them to curb the numbers of deer.[27]

The critically endangered Iberian lynx lives in southern Spain and formerly in eastern Portugal. A lynx reproduction binnder is planned outside Silves in the Algarve in southern Portugal.

North America

The two Lynx species in North America, Canada lynx and bobcats, are both found in the temperate zone. While bobcats are common throughout southern Canada, the continental United States, and northern Mexico, Canada lynx are mainly present in boreal forests of Canada and Alaska.[21]

Legal status

Lynx pardinus, the Iberian lynx, is critically endangered, and is the subject of intense conservation efforts.

The hunting of lynx is illegal in many countries. The Iberian lynx is almost extinct and killing them has been outlawed since the 1970s in Spain and Portugal.[28]

National animal

The lynx is considered a national animal in the Republic of Macedonia[29][30] and is displayed on the reverse of the R.Macedonia 5 denar coin.[31]

See also


  1. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. Mammal Species of the World (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 541–542. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. http://www.bucknell.edu/msw3.
  2. ^ a b "Definition of lynx from Oxford Dictionary". Oxford Dictionary. http://oxforddictionaries.com/view/entry/m_en_gb0488070?rskey=Z0YVvr&result=2. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  3. ^ "lynx — Definition from Longman English Dictionary Online". Longman Dictionary. http://www.ldoceonline.com/dictionary/lynx. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  4. ^ a b "Lynx". http://www.constellationsofwords.com/Constellations/Lynx.htm. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
  5. ^ Jackson, Peter (24 April 1997). "Eurasian lynx". lynx.uio.no. http://lynx.uio.no/jon/lynx/eulynx1.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-28.
  6. ^ "Canada Lynx (Lynx canadensis)". Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. 2009-07-09. http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/er/biodiversity/index.asp?mode=info&Grp=17&SpecCode=AMAJH03010. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
  7. ^ a b "Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus)" (Page navigation contains an imagemap). Cat Specialist Group Species Accounts. IUCN – The World Conservation Union. 1996. http://lynx.uio.no/jon/lynx/lynxib01.htm. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
  8. ^ "Iberian lynx – Lynx pardinus". Species Data Sheets. United Nations Environment ProgrammeWorld Conservation Monitoring Centre. 2004. Archived from the original on 2010-05-03. http://web.archive.org/web/20100503151338/http://www.unep-wcmc.org/species/data/species_sheets/iberlynx.htm.
  9. ^ Johnson, Christopher (2011). "Lynx pardinus – Spanish lynx". Animal Diversity Web. University of Michigan Museum of Zoology. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Lynx_pardinus.html. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
  10. ^ a b Sparano, Vin T. (September 1998). Complete Outdoors Encyclopedia. St. Martin's Press. p. 228. ISBN 0-312-19190-1.
  11. ^ a b Cahalane, Victor H (2005-03-01). Meeting the Mammals. Kessinger Publishing. p. 64. ISBN 1-4179-9522-X.
  12. ^ a b Sunquist, Mel; Sunquist, Fiona (2002). Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. p. 153. ISBN 0-226-77999-8.
  13. ^ a b "Canada lynx, American lynx". Science & Nature: Animals – Wildfacts. BBC. 2008-07-25. http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/wildfacts/factfiles/28.shtml. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
  14. ^
    Banda, P. Solomon (September 18, 2010). "Lynx reintroduction ruled a success in Colorado". Associated Press. The Denver Post. http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_16107178. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
    "Colorado: Lynx No Longer Missing". Associated Press. New York Times. 2010-09-17. p. A13. http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/18/us/18brfs-LYNXNOLONGER_BRF.html. Retrieved 2011-05-29.
  15. ^ "DOW Declares Colorado Lynx Reintroduction Program a Success" (Press release). Colorado Division of Wildlife. September 17, 2010. http://wildlife.state.co.us/NewsMedia/PressReleases/Press.asp?PressId=6650. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
  16. ^ "Success of the Lynx Reintroduction Program". Colorado Division of Wildlife. Sept. 7, 2010. http://wildlife.state.co.us/Research/Mammal/Lynx/. Retrieved September 18, 2010.
  17. ^ "§ 17.40 Special rules—mammals" (PDF). 65 Federal Register 16051 16086. National Archives and Records Administration. 2000-03-24. p. 35. http://ecos.fws.gov/docs/federal_register/fr3552.pdf. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  18. ^ Ward, Dan (2008-12-12). "LynxBrief". IberiaNature. http://www.iberianature.com/material/documents/LynxBrief12E.pdf. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  19. ^ Gonçalves, Eduardo (2002-04-21). "Captured cubs hold future of Europe's tiger". London: The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/apr/21/highereducation.biologicalscience. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  20. ^ Kurtén, Björn (1968). Pleistocene Mammals of Europe.
  21. ^ a b Zielinski, William J.; Kucera, Thomas E. (1998). American Marten, Fisher, Lynx, and Wolverine: Survey Methods for Their Detection.. USA: Diane Publishing. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-7881-3628-3.
  22. ^ Hamilton, William J.; Whitaker, John O. (1998). Mammals of the Eastern United States. Cornell University Press. pp. 493–496. ISBN 0-8014-3475-0.
  23. ^ "Deletion of Bobcat (Lynx rufus) from Appendix II" (PDF). Thirteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties, Proposal 5. Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. October 2004. http://www.cites.org/common/cop/13/raw_props/US-Lynx%20rufus.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-31.
  24. ^ Fedriani, J. M., T. K. Fuller, R. M. Sauvajot and E. C. York. 2000. Competition and intraguild predation among three sympatric carnivores. Oecologia, 125:258–270.
  25. ^ "Status and conservation of the Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) in Europe in 2001" (PDF [17.09 Mb]). Coordinated research projects for the conservation and management of carnivores in Switzerland (KORA). http://www.lcie.org/Docs/LCIE%20IUCN/Arx%20KORA%20ELOIS.pdf. Retrieved 2009-03-07.
  26. ^ "Ilves" (in Finnish). Finland: Riista- ja kalatalouden tutkimuslaitos. 2010-10-14. http://www.rktl.fi/riista/riistavarat/suurpedot_2009/ilves.html. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  27. ^ Moore, Matthew (2009-02-13). "Lynx 'should be reintroduced to Britain to cull deer'". London: Telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/wildlife/4612084/Lynx-should-be-reintroduced-to-Britain-to-cull-deer.html. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
  28. ^ Ward, Dan (2004). "The Iberian Lynx Emergency" (PDF). http://www.lcie.org/Docs/Iberian%20lynx/Ward%20REP%20The%20Iberian%20lynx%20emergency.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-13.
  29. ^ Testorides, Konstantin (2006-11-04). "Macedonia Wildcats Fight for Survival". Associated Press. Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/04/AR2006110400503.html. Retrieved 2011-05-30.
  30. ^ Mironski, Jasmina (2009-02-25). "On the trail of the Balkan Lynx". Agence France-Presse. Eathimerini. http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_world_2_25/02/2009_105021. Retrieved 2011-05-30. "The lynx is one of the most endangered wild species and is considered as a national symbol of the country"
  31. ^ "National Bank of Macedonia – Coins in circulation". Nbrm.gov.mk. 2008-11-15. http://www.nbrm.gov.mk/default-en.asp?ItemID=595EED795B736141819A8AA68004DC58. Retrieved 2010-11-14.
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