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|Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx)|
|Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx)|
A lynx ( //; plural lynx or lynxes) 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", derived from the Indo-European root "*leuk-", meaning "light, brightness", in reference to the luminescence of its reflective eyes. There is considerable confusion about the best way to classify felids at present, and some authorities classify them as part of the genus Felis.
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.
|Species||Weight||Length||Height (standing at shoulders)|
|Eurasian lynx||males||18 to 30 kilograms (40 to 66 lb)||81 to 129 centimetres (32 to 51 in)||70 centimetres (28 in)|
|females||18 kilograms (40 lb)|
|Canada Lynx||8 to 11 kilograms (18 to 24 lb)||80 to 105 centimetres (31 to 41 in)||48 to 56 centimetres (19 to 22 in)|
|Iberian lynx||males||12.9 kilograms (28 lb)||85 to 110 centimetres (33 to 43 in)||60 to 70 centimetres (24 to 28 in)|
|females||9.4 kilograms (21 lb)|
|Bobcat||males||7.3 to 14 kilograms (16 to 31 lb)||71 to 100 centimetres (28 to 39 in)||51 to 61 centimetres (20 to 24 in)|
|females||9.1 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.
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.
The Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) or Canadian lynx is a North American felid. It ranges in forest and tundra regions 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. In 2000, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service designated the Canada lynx a threatened species in the lower 48 states.
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.
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. 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. 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. The Iberian lynx is believed to have evolved from Lynx issiodorensis.
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. 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. The population of the bobcat depends primarily on the population of its prey. Nonetheless, bobcats are often killed by larger predators such as coyotes.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. Lynx in Britain were wiped out in the 17th century, but there have been calls to reintroduce them to curb the numbers of deer.
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.
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