Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wolves are the world's most widespread wild mammal, or they were before Homo sapiens decided that they had to go. All wolves are usually considered a single species, Canis lupus, with numerous subspecies. There is a debate about some types, like the tiny, supposedly extinct Japanese wolf (either Canis lupus hodophilax or C. hodophilax). Now a paper published in the Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolution argues that two populations in India are, based on their mitochondrial DNA, distinct both from each other and from other wolf populations. They are therefore proposed as new species, C. himalayensis and C. indica. This finding, if verified, tells us canine evolution and relationships may be much more complex than we thought.