by Science News | Science Education
An African species long assumed to be a jackal is actually a wolf, DNA evidence suggests
|SEEING DOUBLE Although they look alike, the African golden wolf (left)|
should be considered a separate species from the Eurasian golden jackal (right)
scientists argue. (Credit: via Science News)
At first glance, the two animals above look alike, but they are not the same. In fact, one is naturally bigger, according to a report on the Science News today. And when compared with a Golden Fox (below), the physical evidence becomes clearer.
They all have one thing in common however, they are all from the canid family that includes their more domesticable brother, dog.
Todays reports found some canids in Africa could bristle at being called jackals. However, using DNA evidence, scientists have built a case that African golden jackals deserve a name change.
"Canids known as golden jackals (Canis aureus) roam Eurasia and Africa. The African and Eurasian animals closely resemble each other, but their looks are deceiving. The two are actually separate species, Klaus-Peter Koepfli of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Washington, D.C. and colleagues discovered after analyzing DNA collected from jackals, wolves and other related canid species."
"The African species should be renamed African golden wolves (Canis anthus), researchers report online July 30 in Current Biology. African golden wolves are more closely related to gray wolves and coyotes than they are to jackals, the team found."
"Golden wolves may have adopted their jackal-like appearance and omnivorous lifestyle thanks to intense competition among carnivores both bigger and smaller than jackals, the researchers speculate."
"It is unusual for a big canid like a wolf to evolve into a smaller species, the way African golden wolves seem to have, the scientists say."