This article made me grin; I love when scientists make breakthrough discoveries like these.A 'golden jackal' living in north Africa is really a grey wolf, scientists have discovered.
The animal's true identity was revealed when researchers compared its DNA with samples in GenBank, a genetic database.
Until now, the Egyptian jackal - Canis aureus lupaster - had been considered a rare sub-species of the golden jackal.
The new evidence shows it is not a jackal at all, but a type of grey wolf.
'We could hardly believe our own eyes when we found wolf DNA that did not match anything in GenBank,' said Dr Eli Rueness, from the University of Oslo.
The discovery has conservation implications. Golden jackals are not considered endangered, but the newly unmasked African grey wolf might be.
Writing in online journal Public Library of Science ONE, the researchers said: 'The only grey wolf species to inhabit the African continent is a cryptic species for which the conservation status urgently needs assessment.'
Genetically similar jackals - now thought to be wolves - were also identified 1,550miles away from Egypt in the highlands of Ethiopia.
As long ago as 1880 the evolutionary biologist Thomas Huxley commented that Egyptian golden jackals looked suspiciously like grey wolves.
The same doubts have been raised by several 20th century biologists studying the animals' skulls.
The new genetic research, involving scientists from Oxford University's Wildlife Conservation Research Unit, shows beyond doubt that the Egyptian 'golden' jackal is a grey wolf.
Grey wolves are now thought to have colonised Africa around three million years ago, before they spread throughout the northern hemisphere.
Professor David Macdonald, who led the Oxford team, said: 'A wolf in Africa is not only important conservation news but raises fascinating biological questions about how the new African wolf evolved...'
The Egyptian jackal could now be re-named the African wolf, said the scientists.
Oh, I found the article at:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/ ... -test.html