Black Canadian lynx caught on video for the first time

(ORDO NEWS) — Smartphones in our pockets have changed our lives in many ways – not least because we always have a camera on hand to capture special occasions, strange events, and perhaps rare wildlife encounters.

On August 29, 2020, near the town of Whitehorse in Yukon, Canada, Thomas Young, a wildlife biologist with the Yukon government’s Department of Environmental Conservation, saw a spectacle he knew few had seen before.

Lucky for us, he was able to quickly get his phone out and capture the spectacle, giving the world a good look at the black-coated Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis).

The fur of these large cats is usually silver gray in winter and a darker tawny brown during the summer months. Therefore, the appearance of the black (or melanistic) Canadian lynx is of great interest to specialists.

“There are only a few records of coat color polymorphism in members of the genus Lynx,” writes Jung in his published paper.

“The adaptive significance of melanism in the lynx is unknown, but loss of camouflage during winter hunting is probably maladaptive.”

The black Canadian lynx will find it much more difficult to disguise itself when hunting prey such as the mountain hare (Lepus americanus), which Jung speculates may explain why there aren’t many cats in the world with this fur color.

Jung observed the animal from a distance of about 50 meters (approximately 160 feet), which did not seem to be too disturbed by the presence of people nearby. In the 30-second video, the barking of a dog is also heard, which may have caused the big cat to slowly crawl away.

Due to the brevity of the observation, it was not possible to conduct a detailed study of the color of the coat of the lynx, except for a few cursory observations. Although the footage is rather shaky and pixelated, several experts have confirmed that this creature is indeed a Canadian lynx.

“She had a black coat with whitish-gray guard hairs all over her body, as well as whitish-gray hairs on her facial brush, rostrum, and dorsal region,” says Jung.

Keep this in mind the next time you go out with your smartphone: in addition to taking pictures of children and pets, you may have the opportunity to capture a never-before-seen animal.

While the Canadian lynx usually does not vary much in color, other species, including bears and wolves, can be incredibly varied. As with the Canada lynx, coloration is thought to be related to how the animals hunt for food, or even provide a cooling or warming advantage.

Throughout the animal kingdom, camouflage and colors that blend into the background can help sneak up on prey (or avoid predators). Bright, eye-catching colors can help attract mates (or deter predators). Unfortunately, color change can also occur due to human activities.

Keeping track of the range of colors possible in a mammal population can be valuable in predicting how a species might respond to changes in its environment.

“Indeed, since increased competition from coyotes (Canis latrans) is a problem for the Canada lynx facing increasingly fine snow as a result of climate change, the additional disadvantage of losing camouflage for the melanistic lynx hunting hares in winter is likely to that melanism would be maladaptive,” writes Jung.


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