Body Features

     The Lynx rufus is a stealthy hunter, capable of sudden bursts of speed. Their frontally located weapons, their teeth and claws, indicate this. Bobcats hunt animals which are wary and are very able to escape danger if they perceive it. A stealthy, silent approach is essential. In order to achieve this hunting style, their body must be flexible and freely moving body. Bobcats sneak in very close to their prey and once they get within a few yards they abandon stealth for speed. If needed the Bobcat may sprint for a few strides, but they don't run while hunting like similar carnivores. This video demonstrates the hunting style of Lynx rufus (NatGeoWild 2012).


      Only a few features have changed skeletally since the evolution from the shrew like mammals. Changes have occured to the skull and the limbs. The backbone is very flexible, especially in the lumbar region. There is also great ease for their legs to move because of their ability to bend freely at the shoulder, elbow, wrist, knee, and ankles This flexibility is where cats can derive their strength for their straightened kick, demonstrated in the photo below, which is 

used to run at high speeds and jump great distances. (Norwak 1999). All of these graceful movements call for a well-developed system of muscles. The strongest muscles are located in the lumbar region of the back and in the shoulder and neck region, for striking power.

     The first mammals had plantigrade limbs, or they walked on flat feet with the heel and wrist contacting the ground with each stride. ( 2013) This form of limb was ideal for small mammals clambering among vegetation which was relatively much larger than the mammal. This type of movement is not effective when trying to move fast speeds because you cannot get the full length of your stride. For animals which high speed locomotion became integral to survival, they adapted a new type of limb, the digitigrade limb. This limb orients animals onto their toes and they are able to run and jump more effectively. Bobcats have digitigrade limbs (Whitaker Et. all 1998). Bobcats have five toes on their front feet and four on their hind foot (Gussiberg 1975). There are soft pads located on the bottom of each toe to allow for stealthy movement (Gussiberg 1975). Bobcats also have retractable claws. This means that their claws are normally hidden inside adapted pieces of skin on the ends of their toes until they decide to make them come out. As a result these claws remain sharp for whenever they need to be used and they assist in the stealthy movement of the Bobcat. Sharp claws also assist in climbing trees.

     As is the case in most animals, the head of the Bobcat contains several of the most important sensory organs that they possess. The skull protects the brain, which is the chief executive operating center of the body. Their skull also houses their eyes, nose, and mouth. Common knowledge is that mammals are the most intelligent animals in existence. The Bobcat, compared to rest of the mammals, are reasonably bright. Their brains, and in particular, their cerebral hemispheres, which have to do with intelligent behavior, are large (Boorer 1970). The jaws of the Bobcat are short, which gives them more power for biting. The large muscles which power the jaws extend from the lower jaw itself and, passing over the sides of the head, are joined to the roof of the skull where there is a bony ridge protruding for this purpose. The Bobcat has a dental formula of I3/3C1/1P3/2M1/1 (Laycock 1983). This means that on each side they have three upper incisors and three lower incisors, one upper and lower canine, three upper premolars and two lower, and one upper and lower molar. The first of the premolars of the upper jaw is small and in many cases is absent. The hindmost of the upper premolars and the first of the lower molars are large. These teeth, known as carnassials, are of great importance for shearing through meat ( 2013). The incisors are of little importance in feeding, although they are occasionaly used to nibble small pieces of meat from a carcass. The canines are very important for they, together with the claws, are the weapons used in making a kill. Once this occurs the carnassial teeth come into play for tearing apart the carcass (Laycock 1983).

     A Bobcat's eyes are on the front of the head rather than at the side. This means that Bobcats do not have all-around vision, a feature which would not be important to them for they are able to judge distance, an ability which is important when pouncing on other animals who will not allow a second attempt if it can be avoided. Like most other mammals, cats are color blind (Jackson 1986). Bobcats have adapted to hunt both by day and night as opportunity offers, and the design of the eyes is therefore a compromise. The most obvious sign of this adaptation appears in the shape of the pupils, which is a vertical slit. A pupil of this shape can be opened more widely and closed more narrowly than a pupil of the conventional round shape, and is therefore more useful in an eye which must work under a wide variety of light (Jackson 1986). Their eyes also possess a layer of tapetum lucidum which enables them to see their prey in extremely low light conditions (Kleiman Et. all 2001).

To continue to learn about the Lynx rufus check out the Gallery Page for pictures.