Why are lynx tails short?

Canda lynx with very short tail to avoid picking up snow! Image: MikeB
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Members of the wild cat lynx lineage, the bobcat, Canada lynx, Iberian lynx (the rarest of the lynx family and one of the rarest of all cat species) and Eurasian lynx (the largest of the lynx family) all have very short tails. We have to recognise the fact that every part of a cat’s anatomy (morphological feature) such as the tail are fully functional and tested over eons of evolution. The entire body has evolved to improve survival. To beat the rest.

So, there must be a reason for the short tails of these members of the lynx lineage of small wild cats. But what is it? There is no obvious, stand out reason. The experts might be scratching their heads too.

The common-sense reason is this one: these cats often encounter snow especially the Canada lynx. Although the bobcat is relatively poor at travelling through deep snow unlike the Canada lynx with their snowshoe-like paws. A long tail might drag in the snow occasionally and pick up ice. A long tail for a cat in snow which does not climb a lot might be detrimental to survival and so over many thousands of years the tail became shorter and shorter as short-tailed lynx outlived their longer tailed ancestors.

I think that this is a fair argument. It is supported by Jim Sanderson and Patrick Watson both small wild cat specialists in their book ‘Small Wild Cats’.

The Iberian lynx appears to live in a warm climate in the southeast corner of Spain. But they also live further inland including in the mountains where I believe there is snow. I think this would support my theory or at least not undermine it!

Years ago, I wrote about the reason for the bobcats short tail. I wasn’t sure but am now more certain for the reasons stated above.

RELATED: 2 key appearance differences between the bobcat and the lynx

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