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Falklands 'Wolf' That Baffled Darwin Was Actually More Like a Jackal- New Study

posted Feb 8, 2017, 1:09 PM by chloe owens

1/11/17, by Carlo Meloro, Earth Touch News

Falklands ‘wolf’ that baffled Darwin was actually more like a jackal – new study

When Charles Darwin stopped briefly at the Falkland Islands on the famous voyage of the Beagle, he ran into one of the great mysteries in animal evolution. The islands had just one native terrestrial mammal, which he confusingly described as a “wolf-like fox.” It wasn’t clear what the species was descended from, or how it had ended up in such a remote place, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest mainland. The Falkland Islands wolf, known also as the warrah or Dusicyon australis, was hunted to extinction in the latter half of the 19th century…However, new research by colleagues and me published in the journal Mammal Review reveals that, in terms of skull shape and feeding habits, this mysterious “wolf” was more like a jackal…By looking through the South American fossil record, scientists identified its direct ancestor as an extinct fox known as Dusicyon avus which was once found as far south as Patagonia. A 2013 study found Falklands wolf DNA split from its mainland ancestors about 16,000 years ago – during the last ice age…We realized the Falklands wolf and Dusicyon avus most closely resembled the jackal species found in Africa and Eurasia.