Teeth marks could prove big cats are in Gloucestershire
BONES bearing the teeth marks of big cat attacks could help prove the existence of these elusive animals.
Scientists believe they may have found evidence to prove once and for all that big cats are roaming Gloucestershire – by analysing their victims' bones.
A researcher at the Royal Agricultural University in Cirencester is preparing to unveil his latest research, which has analysed the teeth marks left in the bones of livestock and deer that have been found half-eaten across Wiltshire and Gloucestershire.
And Dr Andrew Hemmings said that while his detailed scientific evidence wasn't the most conclusive proof of big cats, it added to the growing weight of evidence.
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Dr Hemmings is a senior lecturer in equine science at the university, and has embarked on a research project to examine teeth marks left on the bones of 23 different carcasses found in the Cotswolds in the past couple of years.
It comes after almost two years and dozens of big cat sightings in Gloucestershire and after suspected big cat deer kills in Woodchester and Dursley proved negative for feline DNA.
"We are excited as we are finding some tooth pits in many of the bones that suggest the animals could have been killed by a large-sized feline, but at the moment it is impossible to tell whether they have been caused by a domestic dog or big cat.
"We have only looked at the front teeth indents and it is hard to distinguish between the two animals. Next we are going to look at their back molars because they leave a specific type of imprint," he added.
Of the 23 different bones, 15 are being examined further, and the results will be out next month.
Gloucestershire big cat tracker Frank Tunbridge said the study was useful but the public would demand more evidence.
"Either a carcass or a skeleton, or a really good close-up picture or video is what's needed," he said.
Dr Hemmings is giving a lecture on his progress, at the Cotswold Water Park's Gateway Centre in South Cerney next Wednesday.