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Scientists prove that 'big cats' roamed the countryside

The Canadian Lynx was discovered in Bristol Museum's storeroom Credit: Southampton University

The rediscovery of a mystery animal in a museum’s underground storeroom proves that a non-native ‘big cat’ prowled the British countryside at the turn of the last century.

The animal’s skeleton and mounted skin was analysed by a multi-disciplinary team of scientists and researchers at Southampton, Durham, Bristol, and Aberystwyth universities and found to be a Canadian lynx – a carnivorous predator more than twice the size of a domestic cat.

The research, published today in the academic journal Historical Biology, establishes the animal as the earliest example of an “alien big cat” at large in the British countryside.