Biology, Environment

News: New feline species discovered

Was discovered in Corsica island a new species called cat-fox.

Source: Science Alert

On the French island of Corsica in the Mediterranean, a strange, rarely seen beast stalks the night. Locals call it ghjattuvolpe – the cat-fox – and for the last decade, scientists have been hot on its trail, trying to unravel the mystery.

Now agents with France’s National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS) have revealed their work to the world – a wild cat they think might be a previously unknown species.

The feline had been a local legend for years, a predator that would attack the udders of sheep and goats at night. But when one was accidentally trapped in a chicken coop overnight in 2008, that caught the attention of researchers.

In 2012, they set out snares for the animals’ DNA – wooden sticks to which the cats were lured with an attractive scent. When they rubbed their bodies against the sticks, they left tufts of fur behind, perfect for genetic identification.

“By looking at its DNA, we could tell it apart from the European wildcat, Felis silvestris silvestris,” Benedetti said. “It’s close to the African forest cat, F. silvestris lybica, but its exact identity is still to be determined.”

This is the cat-fox.

It may have been living on Corsica for 6,500 years, since the time of the second human colonisation of the island.

The cat differs from the domestic cat in several key ways, including its larger size – up to 90 centimetres (35 inches) long from head to tail-tip, very wide-set ears, short whiskers, and long canine teeth. (A domestic cat averages roughly 76 centimetres head to tail-tip.)

 

 

 

 

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