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DNA Evidence Shows 'Golden Jackals' Are Really 'Golden Wolves'

First Posted: Jul 31, 2015 09:03 AM EDT
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New findings published in the journal Current Biology show that East Africa's "golden jackal's" are actually "golden wolves." This doglike species that was thought to populate parts of East Africa and Eurasia is not just one but two species, according to researchers.

"This represents the first discovery of a 'new' canid species in Africa in over 150 years," Klaus-Peter Koepfli, a researcher with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, in Washington, D.C., said in a press release.

Koepfli and Robert Wayne of the University of California, Los Angeles said they became interested in the possible classification error following a few studies that examined the species' mitochondrial DNA in East Africa, suggesting that the animal might be some other species of gray wolf.

From there, they took the DNA and analyzed it, combining a genome-wide survey with anatomical observations.

Findings revealed the reoriented Canidae family tree of the two were not similar at all. In fact, the African golden wolf (Canis anthus) is much more closely related to gray wolves and coyotes than jackals.

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