A very uncommon event happened when a black Canada lynx was filmed on camera for the first time ever.
Thomas Jung, a scientist from the University of Alberta, used his smartphone to record a black Canada lynx in a Yukon, Canada, neighborhood. Surprisingly, the lynx seemed quite composed, even with the commotion of human activities and a barking dog in the vicinity.
Experts who analyzed the video footage have verified that the animal in question is indeed a Canadian lynx, not a bobcat (Lynx rufus). Thomas Jung explained, “It had a black coat with whitish gray guard hairs all over, including whitish gray hairs in the facial ruff, as well as on the nose and upper back.”
Melanism, which involves a higher production of melanin, the pigment responsible for color, is quite frequent in cats. Approximately one-third of all cat species are known to have a melanistic variation. For instance, black panthers are essentially melanistic leopards or jaguars. These genetic mutations can either be advantageous (adaptive) or harmful (maladaptive) for the animal.
Color variations in the Lynx genus have been a rare occurrence. The reasons behind why melanism exists in lynx remain a mystery, but according to Jung, it’s probably not advantageous because it might hinder their ability to blend in while hunting in snowy conditions. This suggests that having a dark coat could potentially put them at a disadvantage when hunting snowshoe hares against a snowy background. Snowshoe hares (Lepus americanus) are a primary food source for Canada lynx in the northern parts of their habitat, which primarily covers Canada and Alaska, with some regions bordering northern U.S. states.