The African golden jackal is actually a type of wolf, and is the first wolf species on African soil in the last 150 years. Though the two jackals of African and Eurasian continents look similar, there is a difference among them.
The research was conducted by an international team of experts, and was published in Current Biology on Thursday. The authors have discovered that the two golden jackal populations in Eurasia and Africa, split more than 100 million years ago. Complex DNA analysis revealed that African golden jackals were closely related to Gray wolves. Confusion existed over the taxonomy and evolutionary relationships as the African golden jackals look similar to its distant relative, the Eurasian Golden Jackal.
Adam Hartstone-Rose, an associate professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy at the University of South Carolina School of Medicine, said that the evolutionary relationships of jackals have long been in a mess. Authors of the study have proposed to rename the African golden jackal as African golden wolf, Canis anthus. The name was proposed by Frédéric Cuvier in 1820 during the description of the species.
The genetics are entirely different and there is no resemblance between the two creatures. These species join with the wolves and coyotes. Researchers found that the African golden jackal lineage split from gray wolf and coyotes 1.3 million years ago, while the Eurasian golden jackal lineage split 600,000 years prior to that.
Vertebrate paleontologist Jack Tseng from the American Museum of National History said that the study demonstrates convincingly, using multiple lines of genomic evidence, that African and Eurasian golden jackals represent distinct lineages deserving of species-level separation.
Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation biology, stated that they were excited to share the discovery of a new Canid species in 150 years. The study has not reached its conclusion as it would require further studies into Canid species, and marks the beginning of genome research in this special branch of animals.[ Source ] [ Via ]