Lynx rufus, the bobcat, inhabits a variety of environments from northern boreal coniferous forest to coastal swamps and southwestern scrub and deserts. It ranges from British Columbia to Nova Scotia in Canada south to Oaxaca, Mexico. Lynx rufus preys upon small vertebrates, primarily lagomorphs and rodents. Bobcats have been known to take larger prey such as deer in the northern part of their range, and peccaries in the southwest. Lynx rufus is listed on CITES Appendix II, and endangered status has been given to one of the Mexican subspecies, L. r. escuinapae, by the U.S.
Lynx rufus is recorded from numerous Pleistocene-aged localities in North America. The species first appeared about 2.5 million years ago and was generally somewhat larger in average body size than at present. It has been suggested that L. rufus, L. canadensis (Canada lynx), L. pardinus (Spanish lynx), L. lynx (Eurasian lynx), and L. issiodorensis (extinct Issoire lynx) descended from a common ancestor in North America 6.7 million years ago; analyses of both molecular and morphological data support the monophyly of this Lynx group.
The skull of the bobcat can be differentiated from that of the other North American Lynx species, the Canada lynx, by its relatively small size and narrow (less than 30 mm) interorbital breadth. Sagittal crest development has been documented in adult L. rufus, the most common pattern being a poorly to moderately developed crest with lyrate temporal ridges. The ontogenetic variation in sagittal crest development is related to the temporalis musculature, the origin of which migrates and expands with age. The temporalis muscle is the primary jaw-closing muscle, integral for a powerful prey-killing bite. The pattern of sagittal crest development may be linked to skull size, and thus body size, which may be related to prey size. Investigations of the cranial morphology of the Lynx group have provided insights into the role of environmental influences on their body size as well as species diversification.
About the Species
This specimen, a female of the subspecies californicus, was collected in Montecito, Santa Barbara County, California. It was made available to The University of Texas High-Resolution X-ray CT Facility for scanning courtesy of Drs. Blaire Van Valkenburgh and Jessica Theodor, Department of Organismic Biology, Ecology, and Evolution, University of California, Los Angeles. Funding for scanning was provided by Dr. Van Valkenburgh and by a National Science Foundation Digital Libraries Initiative grant to Dr. Timothy Rowe of The University of Texas at Austin. This bobcat is one of several felid carnivorans included in ongoing research of respiratory turbinates by Drs. Van Valkenburgh and Theodor.
About this Specimen
The specimen was scanned by Matthew Colbert on 09 May 2001 along the coronal axis for a total of 399 slices, each slice 0.278 mm thick with an interslice spacing of 0.278 mm. The dataset displayed was reduced for optimal Web delivery from the original, much higher-resolution CT data.
García-Perea, R. 1996. Patterns of postnatal development in skulls of lynxes, genus Lynx (Mammalia: Carnivora). Journal of Morphology 229:241-254.
Johnson, W. E., and S. J. O'Brien. 1997. Phylogenetic reconstruction of the Felidae using 16S rRNA and NADH-5 mitochondrial genes. Journal of Molecular Evolution 44(Suppl. 1):S98-S116.
Kurtén, B. 1965. The Pleistocene Felidae of Florida. Bulletin of the Florida State Museum 9:215-273.
Kurtén, B. and E. Anderson. 1980. Pleistocene mammals of North America. Columbia University Press, New York. 442 pp.
Lariviere, S., and L. R. Walton. 1997. Lynx rufus. Mammalian Species 563:108.
MacFadden, B. J., and H. Galiano. 1981. Late Hemphillian cat (Mammalia, Felidae) from the Bone Valley Formation of central Florida. Journal of Paleontology 55:218-226.
Mattern, M. Y., and D. A. McLennan. 2000. Phylogeny and speciation of felids. Cladistics 16:232-253.
Salles, L. O. 1992. Felid phylogenetics: extant taxa and skull morphology (Felidae, Aeluroidea). American Museum Novitates 3047:1-67.
Van Valkenburgh, B., J. Theodor, A. Friscia, and T. Rowe. 2001. Respiratory turbinates of carnivorans revealed by CT scans: a quantitative comparison. Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology 21:110A.
Werdelin, L. 1981. The evolution of lynxes (Lynx spp.). Annales Zoologici Fennici 18:37-71.
Werdelin, L. 1983. Morphological patterns in the skulls of cats. Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 19:375-392.
Wigginton, J. D., and F. S. Dobson. 1999. Environmental influences on geographic variation in body size of western bobcats. Canadian Journal of Zoology 77:802-813.
Lynx rufus species account provided by the IUCN Cat Specialist Group
Lynx rufus on The Animal Diversity Web (The University of Michigan Museum of Zoology)
Lynx rufus on The Mammals of Texas Online Edition
Wild Facts on the bobcat from the BBC Online website (includes audio)
Lynx rufus on the Cyber Zoomobile
Lynx rufus on Big Cats Online