Multidisciplinary investigation of a 'British big cat': a lynx killed in southern England c. 1903

Blake, M., Naish, D., Larson, G. , King, C.L., Nowell, G., Sakamoto, Manabu and Barnett, R. (2014) Multidisciplinary investigation of a 'British big cat': a lynx killed in southern England c. 1903. Historical Biology, 26 (4). pp. 441-448. ISSN 0891-2963

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The alleged presence of non-native felid species in the British countryside – popularly, though in part erroneously, known as ‘British big cats’ or ‘alien big cats’ – is a long-standing and controversial topic, perennially of interest to both the mass media and amateur naturalists, and with little apparent acceptance from the technical zoological community. Nevertheless, a number of carcasses and captured live specimens have demonstrated the occasional presence within the region of escapees that potentially explain at least some ‘British big cat’ eyewitness records. We report here the existence of a probable Canada lynx, Lynx canadensis, shot in Newton Abbot, Devon, England, in or prior to 1903, and then accessioned to Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. The specimen (represented by extensive skeletal material and a stuffed taxidermy mount) is Bobcat-like in some respects but is identified as a Canada lynx on the basis of skeletal morphology with a high degree of support; attempts to extract DNA were unsuccessful. Stable strontium isotope analysis supports either a recent introduction from western Canada or long-term acclimation to the local area of Devon where it was collected. Although the specimen was undoubtedly an ‘alien’ (an escapee or release from a collection), it is significant as material evidence in demonstrating, for the first time, the presence of a wild-caught, feral, exotic felid dating to the early years of the twentieth century.

Additional Information:cited By 1
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:39568
Deposited On:17 Jan 2020 12:06

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