Jet Black Canadian Lynx Caught on Camera in the Wild for the First Time Ever: VIDEO

by Taylor Cunningham
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The first-ever jet-black Canadian lynx was caught on video in the Yukon territory this summer.

Lynx usually don reddish brown coats that change to a silvery gray color in winter. But this particular wildcat has a coat similar to a panther.

Scientists had never seen a lynx of this kind. And after studying the video, they published an article in the Mammalia journal explaining how it came to be.

“Coat color in the genus Lynx tends to be stable, with little variation within species compared to that of other felids,” the authors wrote in the paper. “A rare pallid color morph is occasionally observed, suggestive of partial albinism. Here, I report the first record of a melanistic Canada lynx.”

The publication noted that the coat is primarily black with small amounts of grayish-white guard hairs throughout its body and face. Not only is this specimen a unique find, but lynxes with any deviations in color are incredibly rare.

Researchers Believe the Melanism Caused the Rare Canadian Lynx Coloring

Researchers believe melanism caused the black coat. Melanism is a genetic mutation that causes excess production of melanin and makes skin, fur, and hair darker.

“Melanism in animals that otherwise are not dark can be caused by spontaneous mutations in genes responsible for the production of melanin,” Germán Orizaola, a senior researcher at the University of Oviedo, told Newsweek. “In this particular case, this is quite likely the reason, since the normal coloration of the species is gray.”

Both melanism and albinism can affect cat species. But scientists believe that the Canadian lynx isn’t as prone to the mutation. The cat changes color based on the season to help it blend into its surroundings. This helps it hunt more effectively.

Pablo Burraco, an evolution researcher at Estación Biológica de Doñana, said that the photographed animal likely remains the same color year-round. So he’s interested to learn how it survives.

“I assume this black lynx won’t turn gray during the winter,” he shared. “That could potentially have some consequences for that individual. However, it would be interesting to see if that individual changes its behavior in order to try to occupy certain areas where its coloration matches better with the background, then improving its predation success.”

Melanistic leopards—aka black panthers—adapted to their coloration by moving to areas that better match their coats. And Burraco thinks that the black lynx could do the same in the summer months.

But because all of Canada is snow-covered for most of the winter, there is nowhere for it to hide while it stalks its main prey, the shoestring hare. So no matter what the animal tries, it will be at a disadvantage for a large portion of the year.