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African and Eurasian golden jackals are distinct species

The golden jackal of Africa (Canis aureus) has long been considered a conspecific of jackals distributed throughout Eurasia. However, two recent reports found that mitochondrial haplotypes of some African golden jackals aligned more closely to gray wolves (Canis lupus) which is surprising given the absence of gray wolves in Africa and the phenotypic divergence between the two species. Moreover, these results imply the existence of a previously unrecognized phylogenetically distinct species despite a long history of taxonomic work on African canids. To test the distinct-species hypothesis and understand the evolutionary history that would account for this puzzling result, extensive genomic data in African and Eurasian golden jackals and gray wolves were analyzed. Results provide consistent and robust evidence that populations of golden jackals from Africa and Eurasia represent distinct monophyletic lineages separated for more than one million years, sufficient to merit formal recognition as different species: C. anthus (African golden wolf) and C. aureus (Eurasian golden jackal). Using morphologic data, a striking morphologic similarity between East African and Eurasian golden jackals was demonstrated, suggesting parallelism, which may have misled taxonomists and likely reflects uniquely intense interspecific competition in the East African carnivore guild. This study shows how ecology can confound taxonomy if interspecific competition constrains size diversification. informacion[at]ebd.csic.es: Koepfli et al (2015) Genome-wide evidence reveals that African and Eurasian Golden jackals are distinct species. Curr Biol 25, 1-8 doi:10.1016/j.cub.2015.06.060


http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960982215007873
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