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A lynx (plural lynx) is any of four big-sized wild cats. All are members of the genus Lynx, but there is considerable confusion about the best way to classify felids at present, and some authorities classify them as part of the genus Felis. The Caracal, despite sometimes being called Persian lynx or African lynx, does not belong to this genus.

Appearance

Lynx lynx
Lynx have short tails and characteristic tufts of black hair on the tip of their ears. They have a ruff under the neck, which has black bars (not very visible), resembling a bow tie. They have large padded paws for walking on snow, and long whiskers on the face. The body color varies from medium brown to gold-ish to beige-white; and occasionally, is 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 coloring, fur height and paw size varies by its climate range — in the Southwestern United States, the fur and color are short-haired, dark and the paws are smaller and less padded; as the lynx ranges to its colder northern climes, the fur gets progressively thicker (for warmth), the color gets lighter (for camouflage) and its paws enlarge and become more padded for snowy environments. Their paws may become larger than a human hand.

They have extremely good hearing and they also have 28 teeth, which, when paired with the jaw structure, stab deeply into their prey. This can be especially helpful to the lynx because they are not the most efficient hunters and they lose most of their prey to a variety of factors.

The smallest species are the Bobcat and the Canada Lynx, with average weights , while the largest is the Eurasian Lynx, with average weight , up to a reported maximum of , but there is considerable variation within species.

Behavior

Lynxes are usually solitary, although small groups of lynx may travel and hunt together occasionally. Mating takes place in the late winter and they give birth to two to six 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 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, fox, sheep, pets, squirrels, mice, turkey and other birds, and goats. They also eat ptarmigan, voles, grouse and fish.

Habitat

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

Range

Europe and Asia

The Eurasian Lynx


The Eurasian lynx ranges from central and northern Europe across Asia. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the Eurasian lynx was considered extinct in the wild in Sloveniamarker and Croatiamarker. 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 Parkmarker and Risnjak National Parkmarker. In both countries, the lynx is listed as an endangered species and protected by law. Lynx-spotting can be arranged in cooperation with the Risnjak National Park. Several lynx resettlement projects begun in the 1970s have been successful in various regions of Switzerlandmarker. Since the 1990s, there have been numerous efforts to resettle the Eurasian lynx in Germanymarker. Lynx are found in the Białowieża Forestmarker in northeastern Polandmarker , in Estoniamarker and in the northern west parts of China in the tibetian mt. range. In Romaniamarker the numbers exceed 2,000, the largest population in Europe outside of Russiamarker, although most experts consider the official population numbers to be overestimated. Lynx are more common in northern Europe, especially in Swedenmarker, Estoniamarker, Finlandmarker, and the northern parts of Russiamarker. 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.Lynxes in Britainmarker were wiped out in the 17th Century but there is a plan to reintroduce them to curb the numbers of deer.The critically endangered Iberian lynx lives in southern Spainmarker and formerly in eastern Portugalmarker. There is a lynx reprodution centre planned outside Silves in the Algarve in southern Portugal.

North America

The Canadian lynx is common throughout the boreal forests of Canadamarker and Alaskamarker, and is particularly abundant throughout its northern range when snowshoe hare numbers are high. Canadian lynx have been observed as recently as 2006 in the Wet Mountainsmarker of Coloradomarker. In recent years, a few lynx sightings were reported in the southern Appalachian Mountainsmarker of western North Carolinamarker, specifically in the area from Mount Mitchell across to the Shope Creek Forest area in the Pisgah National Forestmarker.lynx are also found in the northern appalachians. One lynx was even caught alive in a cage trap at Graystone Cabins near Barnardsville, North Carolinamarker; the animal was later released into a wilderness area within Madison County, North Carolinamarker. Although the USFWS officials still deny the presence of lynx in the southern Appalachians, the most recent sighting was reported in September 2007 in the Shope Creek Forest. USFWS officials have stated that if these sightings were actually lynx, they were most likely illegally-held pets, which had been released or had escaped.

The bobcat (L. rufus) ranges throughout most of North America.

Lineage

The four species of the Lynx genus are believed to have evolved from the "Issoire lynx", which is believed to have been the original lynx during the Pliocene epoch.

Legal status

The hunting of lynx is illegal in many countries. The Iberian lynx is almost extinct and the killing of any individuals has been outlawed since the 1970s in Spain and Portugal. In 2000, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service designated the Canadian Lynx a Threatened species in the lower 48 states.

National animal

The lynx is considered a national animal in the Republic of Macedoniamarker and is displayed on the reverse of the Macedonian 5 denar coin. It is also the national animal of Romaniamarker.

In popular culture

The lynx was chosen to be the mascot for Ubuntu's next major release, Ubuntu 10.04. The popular Linux distribution has been dubbed the Lucid Lynx and will be an LTS (long-term support) version. On the chosen name, Mark Shuttleworth says: "The lynx is a thoughtful predator".

See also

  • Lynx
  • Wildcat, a small predator native to Europe, the western part of Asia, and Africa


References

  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/04/AR2006110400503.html Washington Post
  2. Kathimerini "The lynx is one of the most endangered wild species and is considered as a national symbol of the country"
  3. National Bank of Macedonia - Coins in circulation


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