On Friday I gave you this object to identify:
As I suspected, everyone spotted that this skull belonged to a member of the Cat family (the Felidae). However, cats are very conservative (as Julie Doyle pointed out) – their skulls all tend to look much the same, which made it hard to identify the species.
This skull is even trickier to identify than it might have been because it comes from a young animal, so it hasn’t reached the full size or development that you might expect from an adult.
Nonetheless, several of you suggested cats from the same genus and henstridgesj worked out that it was between two species. It is in fact the skull of a Spanish or Iberian Lynx, Lynx pardinus (Temminck, 1827).
These cats are under considerable pressure as a species, with fewer than 200 individuals alive in the wild today, possibly fewer than 100.
These Lynx are smaller and less cold-adapted than their Canadian and more northerly European counterparts.
They feed mainly on Rabbits, which is part of the reason they are in such dire straits, since the Spanish Rabbit population has drastically declined in the last few decades due to diseases like myxomatosis.
This has forced them to rely on alternative prey, which has led to increased competition with other small-medium sized carnivores, like the Red Fox.
Unfortunately, they have also been hit hard by habitat loss due to changes in agriculture, persecution and development of infrastructure supporting the tourist industry.
The only remaining regions supporting populations of these beautiful animals are protected nature reserves.
I’d recommend taking a look at the SOS Lynx website to find out more and see some footage of the Iberian Lynx in action.