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1903's 'Devon beast' discovered

The remains of a giant cat which roamed the Devon countryside a hundred years ago have been discovered in the basement of a Bristol museum.

Researchers believe it could be the earliest recorded example on the loose in the UK.

Scientists believe a Canadian lynx was prowling around the fields of the South West in 1903 before being shot after attacking two dogs in Devon.

Tests on the animal revealed it had probably spent some time in captivity before escaping or being set free.

The animal had been donated to Bristol Museum at the time of its death and kept in its stores for decades.

An analysis of the skeleton and mounted skin revealed that the animal was a Canadian lynx, which is about the size of a dog and usually found in Canada and the northern states of the US.

Isla Gladstone, curator of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, believes "once captured the cat was kept in captivity, maybe as part of a menagerie".

The BBC's science correspondent Rebecca Morelle reports.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Today programme on Thursday 25 April 2013.

  • 25 Apr 2013
  • From the section UK