A new canine species has been hiding in plain sight. Dubbed the African golden wolf, it’s the first new species of canidae group that includes wolves, coyotes, and jackals to be discovered in 150 years.
It’s long been believed that the African Golden Jackal was related to the Eurasian Golden Jackal, but new scientific evidence has discovered that the two canines are only distantly related and that the African golden jackal is actually a new species of wolf.
A comprehensive genetic analysis found that the canine that they thought was a jackal has more in common with grey wolves and coyotes.
“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,” said Klaus-Peter Koepfli, a conservation and evolutionary geneticist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington.
Koepfli is proposing renaming the African golden jackal (Canis aureus) the African golden wolf (Canis anthus).
The researchers determined that the African golden jackal lineage split from the lineage including gray wolves and coyotes about 1.3 million years ago.
The African golden wolf is found in north and east Africa, with perhaps some in the Middle East. They are omnivorous, eating a wide variety of food from small mammals to fruits.
The new finding raises the number of living species of Canidae, which includes dogs, wolves, foxes, coyotes and jackals, to 36 from 35.
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