Top: Canada Lynx (Lynx candensis)
Bottom: Bobcat (Lynx rufus)

Despite both being members of the Lynx genus, the bobcat and Canada lynx did are not as closely related as one might think.

The Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) first arrived in North America approximately 2.6 million years ago, crossing over the Bering Land Bridge, and moved far to the south, eventually settling in the Southern half of North America and evolving into what we know as the modern bobcat by the time of the earliest human settlers to the land.

During the last Ice Age (22,000 years ago), the Eurasian lynx once again crossed into North America, along with the Homo sapiens who would eventually populate the continent. This second population evolved into the Canada lynx, which is much more closely related to their progenitors than the bobcats are.

The fur patterns of the bobcat vary drastically from region to region. Some southern bobcats are spotted almost identically to the ocelot, while others in the north are much closer to the faded-spot and grey-white coat of the Canada lynx. All bobcats are generally smaller than the lynx, and have tails about twice the length of other lynx species. They’re also generally more adaptable, as they will act as opportunistic predators when the need arises.

The Canada lynx can be discerned from the bobcat by, in addition to its size and tail, its distinctive striped ruffed collar, and tufts of fur above the ears.

Wild Animals of the World. Edward W. Nelson for the National Geographic Society, 1918.

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