Lynx
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Source: Kongelige Bibliotek (Bestiarius - Bestiary of Anne Walsh (Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4)) Copyright 2003 Kongelige Bibliotek / Used by permission Manuscript description Kongelige Bibliotek, Gl. kgl. S. 1633 4, Folio 6r


 

Lynx

Latin name: Lynx

Other names: Chama, Lincis

The urine of the lynx hardens into a precious stone

 

 
General Attributes

The lynx is a beast that resembles a wolf except for having spots on its back like a panther. The female lynx only gives birth once. Some say that the lynx has such keen vision that it can see through walls.

Its urine hardens into a precious stone called Lapis lyncurius or lynx stone that is flame colored and similar to a carbuncle. The lynx covers its urine with sand so that humans cannot find the stone. This stone is probably amber.


Sources (chronological order)

Theophrastus [5th century BCE] (On Stones): "[Lapis lyncurius] has the power of attraction, just as amber has, and some say that it not only attracts straws and bits of wood, but also copper and iron, if the pieces are thin, as Diokles used to explain. It is cold and very transparent, and it is better when it comes from wild animals rather than tame ones and from males rather than females; for there is a difference in their food, in the exercise they take or fail to take, and in general in the nature of their bodies, so that one is drier and the other more moist Those who are experienced find the stone by digging it up; for when the animal makes water, it conceals this by heaping earth on top."

Ovid [1st century CE] (The Metamorphoses, Book 15, 391-417): "Vanquished India gave lynxes to Bacchus of the clustered vines, and they say that whatever their bladder emits, changes to stone, and solidifies on contact with air."

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 28): The lynx, which has the shape of a wolf and leopard's spots, was first displayed in the games of Pompey the Great (55 BC). (Book 8, 30): Ethiopia produces lynxes in great numbers. (Book 8, 57): The urine of lynxes solidifies into drops like carbuncles, colored like flame; this substance is called "lynx-water" (lyncuriam). Lynxes know that this happens, so they cover their urine with earth to make it solidify more quickly.

Isidore of Seville [7th century CE] (Etymologies, Book 12, 2:20): The lynx is said to have its name from the Greek lukos because it looks like a wolf (lupus), though its back has spots like a pard. The urine of a lynx hardens into a precious stone call lynx-water. Due to a natural jealousy they do not want humans to have the stone, so they cover their urine with sand to hide it.


Illustration

The usual illustration has the lynx emitting a stream of urine which is turning into stone.


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