First recorded black (melanistic) Canada lynx captured on video

The journal Mammalia has a very interesting post (republished by De Gruyter, I believe). It contains a video of what might be a unique black Canada lynx. I say “unique” because the author of the article and my research indicates that up until now this cat is unique. There’s been no other record of a black phase (melanistic) Canada lynx before now.

There have been a few records of “blue lynx” but never black. In fact, lynx show little colour variation. In Newfoundland they are brown or buff-grey in summer. These cats are a unique greyish colour in winter. The fur is thick and silvered over hoary tips according to my research in that excellent book Wild Cats of the World by Mel and Fiona Sunquist.

The author of the post referred to is positive that this is a lynx because of its body size and shape and other physical characteristics. Admittedly the video is a rather poor quality. The screenshot is therefore of even poorer quality.

However, and importantly, the quality is good enough to make a fair assessment. Apparently, several Canada lynx experts have confirmed that this is a Canada lynx.

It was filmed at a location which is 1,100 km north-west of the distribution of bobcats on 29 August 2020. It was recorded on a cell phone about 8 km southeast of Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada by J. Stuckey, I believe. I am surprised I had not heard about this video before today.

Careful inspection of the video indicates that there are whitish grey hairs on the facial ruff and dorsal region. They are also across the “top of the rostrum”. This refers to the beak-like part! I have never heard of it before. I presume that it refers to the muzzle area.

Melanistic (black) Canada lynx
Melanistic (black) Canada lynx. Screenshot from above video.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

The cat’s uniqueness is emphasised by the fact that in one study, according to the Mammalia author and De Gruyter, 40,000 lynx pelts were examined from harvested lynx across Canada and there were no melanistic coats. What a shame by the way that there are so many skins of this beautiful cat. I always find that objectionable. Perhaps I’m being too sentimental.

Canada lynx are harvested annually by fur trappers across much of its distribution. This at least helps us assess how unique a black lynx is and there have been no previous reports of black pelts harvested from Canada lynx.

An earlier post I wrote about a black bobcat. Bobcats are closely related to lynx. You can read about that black bobcat by clicking on the link below. And below that is an article about a white bobcat. It was shot. Surprise, surprise.

Can bobcats be black?

Can bobcats be white?

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