During a field expedition to Ethiopia, a team of scientists noticed something odd: The golden jackals there looked more slender with a whiter coat than they do elsewhere. Now, genetic analyses suggest these oddities are not jackals at all but instead more closely related to gray wolves.
In fact, until now these “highland jackals” were referred to as Egyptian jackals (Canis aureus lupaster), and had long been considered a rare subspecies to the golden jackal (C. aureus).
With new genetic evidence in hand, the team suggested the animal be called the African wolf to reflect its true identity.
“It seems as if the Egyptian jackal is urgently set for a name change,” said study researcher Claudio Sillero of Oxford University’s Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU). “And its unique status as the only member of the gray wolf complex in Africa suggests that it should be re-named ‘the African wolf,’” said Sillero, who has worked in Ethiopia for more than two decades.
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