Forearm flags and caudal flags in lynx-like felids

Lynx-like felids comprise four species of Lynx, the serval (Leptailurus serval, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iBUJrdKG9jc and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKeBUIvfnAw), the African golden cat (Caracal aurata, see https://www.davidmillswildlife.com/african-golden-cats and http://www.catsg.org/index.php?id=106 and https://news.mongabay.com/2015/08/feline-unseen-the-african-golden-cat/) and the caracal (Caracal caracal, https://www.biolib.cz/en/image/id175286/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WEQjsh934vc).

All are medium-size (about 10 kg) for felids, with relatively short tails (e.g. see https://www.clawantlerhide.com/tails/Bobcat%20Tails and https://www.clawantlerhide.com/tails/Bobcat%20Tails). The African golden cat, caracal, bobcat (Lynx rufus) and Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx) are dietary generalists, whereas the serval, Iberian lynx (Lynx pardinus) and Canada lynx (Lynx canadensis) specialise on rodents or lagomorphs.

Lynx-like felids are surprisingly inconsistent in two aspects of conspicuous colouration, namely forearm flags and caudal flags.

The forearm flag is a conspicuously dark-and-pale feature on the inner surface of the foreleg, the ostensible function of which is to remind would-be attackers of the hazard of the claws. This is analogous with the way the fang-baring expression of the caracal is accentuated by bold facial colouration (see my Post of July 24, 2021).

The forearm flag is incongruous with the camouflage colouration of the legs and torso, but is normally hidden by its low, inner position on the figure. It is activated in defensive postures, by bracing or slapping the foreleg forward to reveal the bold pattern - as seen in action here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMFO2n6H6XU and https://www.earthtouchnews.com/natural-world/animal-behaviour/cat-fight-serval-holds-its-own-in-a-showdown-with-a-cheetah/ and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96_Fbhg9oBE.

The caudal flag is a conspicuously dark-and-pale feature on the tail, activated by the lifting of the tail while walking or standing. The adaptive value of this signal is unknown.

Only the bobcat and the serval possess forearm flags. All of the species of Lynx possess caudal flags; by contrast the remaining species have undemonstrative tails. And, to make the picture even less consistent, the caudal flag is questionable in the Canada lynx because its tail is so short that it hardly remains conspicuous.

Bobcat forearm flag: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/30/Bobcat_photo.jpg and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/30230527 and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/52408718 and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/13379610 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobcat#/media/File:Calero_Creek_Trail_Bobcat.jpg and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/20842440 and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bobcat#/media/File:Bobbie_2010_2.jpg. The following shows how effective the camouflage-colouration of the bobcat can be when all its conspicuous features are hidden: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/4972419.

Serval forearm flag: https://i.redd.it/eqy0dvtzt1231.jpg and https://live.staticflickr.com/7146/6442193527_bf0b603898_b.jpg and https://www.flickr.com/photos/nostri-imago/3425081077 and https://www.africansafaris.co.nz/blog/the-super-sleek-serval/ and https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/40300206

The African golden cat is unusually variable in colouration, but even its most graphic pattern on the inner foreleg fails to qualify as a forearm flag: https://www.flickr.com/photos/pantheracats/6046710834.

Bobcat caudal flag: https://www.mendonomasightings.com/2014/05/21/a-confident-bobcat-as-photographed-by-thom-matson/ and https://www.facebook.com/newscentermaine/photos/a.97048189612/10155342593774613/ and https://www.mercurynews.com/2016/11/29/was-that-a-bobcat-in-antioch/

Iberian lynx caudal flag: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/oct/25/the-lynx-effect-iberian-cat-claws-its-way-back-from-brink-of-extinction and https://theeuropeannaturetrust.com/animal-profile-iberian-lynx/ and https://www.earth.com/news/iberian-lynx-resurrection/ and https://www.photo-logistics.com/listings/hide-of-iberian-lynx-in-andujar/ and https://www.wisebirding.co.uk/southern-spain-iberian-lynx-eagles-cranes/

Eurasian lynx caudal flag: https://www.facebook.com/lynxuktrust/photos/a.451014284948269/870742009642159/ and https://www.coniferousforest.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Eurasian-Lynx-Pictures.jpg and https://www.123rf.com/photo_105736894_eurasian-lynx-showing-teeths-in-forest-at-summer.html and https://www.agefotostock.com/age/en/details-photo/eurasian-lynx-lynx-lynx-male-in-summer-germany-saxony/BWI-BS348257

Canada lynx, which only marginally qualifies for a caudal flag: https://www.naturepl.com/stock-photo-canada-lynx-nature-image00641562.html and https://www.facebook.com/101977034910391/photos/a.101979591576802/101978654910229 and https://www.agefotostock.com/age/en/details-photo/canada-lynx-lynx-canadensis-canada-alaska-n-usa/AAM-AAES67410 and https://stock.adobe.com/search?k=%22canada+lynx%22&asset_id=386546544 and https://www.joelsartore.com/wp-content/uploads/stock/ANI019/ANI019-00313.jpg and https://www.canadiangeographic.ca/article/animal-facts-canada-lynx and https://twitter.com/bigcatswildlife/status/1134046151563341824 and https://www.nature.ca/notebooks/english/lynx_p4.htm

The following is unusual in showing the tail of the caracal raised. However, it is being swung rather than held upright: https://www.goodfon.com/download/rys-karakal-priroda-poza-progulka-boke-fon-poliana-trava-sve/2000x1333/. Ditto for the serval: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/76653774. However, I am puzzled by the following photo: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/67697166.

Anotado por milewski milewski, sábado, 31 de julio de 2021 a las 10:12 PM

Comentarios

Anotado por milewski hace cerca de 2 meses (Advertencia)

The colouration of the bobcat is individually variable, and this includes the inner foreleg. In some individuals, the pattern here is not bold enough to qualify as a flag (e.g. see https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/12580580). Having examined hundreds of photos of the bobcat in iNaturalist, I estimate that the incidence of the forearm flag in the species as a whole is about 80%. It is possible that the incidence differs between the subspecies, but I have not looked at this.

Anotado por milewski hace cerca de 2 meses (Advertencia)

The following is a good source of general information and photos about the serval: https://africageographic.com/stories/serval/

Anotado por milewski hace cerca de un mes (Advertencia)

Please see the comments in the following: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/78535248.

Anotado por milewski hace cerca de un mes (Advertencia)

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