The East African species of golden jackal is actually a species of wolf, new genetic research shows. There are two related species of golden jackals in Africa, but the one roaming Eastern Africa is, in fact, a wolf.
It earned its new and improved name of African golden wolf, at present time. This remarkable canine was discovered in 150 years.
Alongside the gray wolf and Ethiopian wolf, the pack has gained this third fellow member – the golden wolf.
About its characteristics and physical appearance, it looks very similar to the Eurasian golden jackal, but taking specific features into account, the Eurasian one is somewhat smaller, with a smaller skull and weaker teeth.
The scientific name for the golden jackal is Canis aureus, whereas researchers suggested the African golden wolf be named Africa Canis anthus.
Scientists’ thorough analysis proved that the two species, however, have been evolving differently for thousands of years.
Scientific circles have often put under the question mark whether golden jackals come in two variants, or if, in fact, one is a wolf and the other an actual jackal.
Biologist Philippe Gaubert, from University of Montpellier, made a statement in which he would attempt to emphasize that East African golden jackals are a subspecies of the gray wolf.
Another biologist, Klaus-Peter Koepfli, proved his theory that the African and Eurasian golden jackals were different, based on genetic markers of 128 canids (i.e. carnivorous mammals of the family Canidae, including wolves, foxes, jackals and coyotes). He meticulously analyzed golden jackals, African gray wolves and domestic dogs.
The latter, above-mentioned biologist said that:
“Our results showed that African and Eurasian golden jackals were distinct across all the genetic markers we tested, including data from whole genomes, suggesting these are independently evolving lineages.”
Koepfli brought upon the resolution that Gaubert’s initial theory was wrong, that the East African golden jackal is an entirely new species of wolf, distantly related to the Eurasian jackal.
As a result, Gaubert expressed his approval concerning Koepfli’s discovery, but pinpointed the fact that deliberation in scientific circles still has to be done, to figure out inconsistencies in the DNA findings.
Bioarchaeologist Gregor Larson, University of Oxford, was fully convinced that the study was phenomenally genuine.
Also, researchers concluded that the African golden wolf can be encountered in North and East Africa, a few in the Middle East, whereas the Eurasian golden jackal is found from southern Europe to the Middle East and across southern Asia all the way to the edge of southeast Asia in Vietnam.
As a conclusion, it seems that appearances can be deceiving.
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