Creatures, Myths & Legends
Evidence of British big cats discovered
By T.K. Randall
November 4, 2013 · 16 comments
The Beast of Bodmin was thought to be a big cat. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Rute Martins
Dr Andrew Hemmings has found tantalizing evidence that large cats are roaming wild across the UK.
Sightings of large predatory cats have persisted across the British Isles for years. While it has long been suspected that a population of these animals has been roaming the countryside, conclusive evidence of their existence in the UK has been thin on the ground.
Dr Andrew Hemmings of the Royal Agricultural University has been conducting his own study in to the phenomenon over the last 12 months and hopes to determine once and for all whether there really are large cats on the loose across Britain. To do this, he's been examining the remains of wild animals believed to have been killed by one.
Supplied by volunteers, farmers and landowners, the remains each show signs of an attack by a predatory creature. Smaller predators such as badgers and foxes can be quickly ruled out, however eliminating domestic dogs as the culprit is a bit more difficult. To achieve this, Dr Hemmings analyzed the indentations of the carnassial teeth which are further apart in big cats than in dogs.
"At the moment, there are three I have found which are weighing in favor of the cat, so it is very tentatively pointing that way," he said. "All three are certainly wider than you would expect to find in a dog imprint. But we need to let the sample size build up before we have anything approaching a statistical basis."
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