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Thread: New Evidence for the Occurrence of Eurasian Lynx in Medieval Britain

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    Senior Member Catterick's Avatar
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    New Evidence for the Occurrence of Eurasian Lynx in Medieval Britain

    Lynxes survived in medieval Britain (and possibly later). Lynxes (Irish: lugh) have an association with light and a Celtic god. Was there no such importance in Germanic myths? Bones show the cats associated with Freyja were Felis not lynxes. In Greek folklore about death Charos (=Hades) is compared to the lynx and the peacock. One Latin tale with no Greek counterpart is about Lyncus king of Scythia. When Grand Duke Sventaragis of Lithuania died in 1271, he was cremated with the claws of a lynx so that he could climb the steep mountain upon which in the afterlife. Lugh-Lleu was a psychopompos so lynxes were thought associated with death?

    The presence of Eurasian lynx as a former native species in Britain during the Holocene is known from bones recovered from several sites. AMS radiocarbon dating of lynx bone recovered from two sites in the Craven area of northern England gave 1842 +/- 35 CyrBP and 1550 +/- 24 CyrBP, together representing the youngest dates for lynx from England, and in the case of the latter,the youngest for Britain as a whole. These dates support the view that the game animal whose occurrence in the nearby Lake District is described in the early 7th century Cumbric text Pais Dinogad, and whose translation to date has been problematic, is a lynx. The occurrence of lynx in early medieval Britain shows that earlier periods of climate change, previously blamed for the species’ extinction in Britain, were not responsible. Instead, anthropogenic factors such as severe deforestation, declining deer populations, and persecution, are likely to have caused the extirpation of lynx in Britain. Consequently, the lynx qualifies as a candidate for reintroduction. Large-scale reafforestation, the growth of deer populations, and more positive attitudes towards carnivores in modern society, could permit the restoration of lynx to Britain, particularly in Scotland.
    https://www.academia.edu/2322604/New...dieval_Britain

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    Thulean Imperial Inquisitor's Avatar
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    Fascinating! I love cats. Except the fucking noises they make outside when they do their territorial stuff. Then I want to shoot them with a rifle.
    "I have reached these lands but newly
    From an ultimate dim Thule
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    Out of SPACE — out of TIME
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    Senior Member Catterick's Avatar
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    The lynx is so obscure in British folklore people thought in 1997 they died out in the early Holocene. Compare this to the countless stories about the last wolf around Britain. Except to the Celts the lynx had limited importance in Europe. The lynx was renowned as sharp eyed and connected to death.

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    Senior Member Catterick's Avatar
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    Does anyone know if lynxes were thought cats or dogs in folk zoology? Its a long shot on a forum like this. But some felines were once thought of as canine.

    I found this in a TetZoo comment.

    If “llewyn” really did mean “lynx”, then it looks like the animal has been extinct in Wales long enough for its original Welsh name to have been forgotten. This contrasts with the wolf, whose Welsh name “blaidd” can still be found in place names here and there. If “llewyn” really did mean “lynx”, then it looks like the animal has been extinct in Wales long enough for its original Welsh name to have been forgotten. This contrasts with the wolf, whose Welsh name “blaidd” can still be found in place names here and there.

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    Thulean sends me reputation with the comment "Bestiary". Yes the lynx was connected to amber but I thought it was a false etymology.

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    I suppose there is enough room for them in the Scottish Highlands, so long as there is enough game and the Scots cooperate and don't shoot them. Here is a documentary about a pair of Lynx being re-introduced in Slovakia.

    Link with the Lynx - The Secrets of Nature


    As the narrator says, it's a balancing act to keep the cats wild enough to not become domesticated so they can learn to live on their own. On the other hand, the ranger needs to build a certain relationship with them to be able to teach them.


    Most people think as they are trained to think, and most people make a majority.

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    Senior Member Catterick's Avatar
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    Lynx having such a ghost lineage since the end of the Ice Age reminds me of the question of late reindeer and elk/moose survival. Also the late survival of Megaloceros (Irish fiaghmore) previously thought extinct in or before the early Holocene. The Wikipedia list excludes reindeer but supposedly they died out around 6,350 BC.

    Reindeer paper: http://archaeologydataservice.ac.uk/...18_023_035.pdf

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    Lynx can be reconstructed for PIE as *luk. It was seldom hunted for its fur but its name was not tabooed. Some Dardic and Pamiric languages words from C Asia have words from *luk that mean a marten. (From Mallory and Adams.)

    I find self-conflicting sources about the lynx in myth and ritual. Lynxes are of "minimal mythological and ritual significance" but are also the local replacement for the leopard? For example in East Slavic burial rites. In E Slavic and Lithuanian words that denote lynxes may denote lions, tigers or leopards. (Gamkrelidze and Ivanov.)

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