It wasn’t long ago that wolves were thought to be found only in Europe, Asia, and North America.
However, there were always wolf-like golden jackals that had scientists perplexed for many years.
Earlier texts listed these animals as Canis lupus lupaster, usually called the Egyptian wolf, but by the late twentieth century, it was assumed that they were nothing more than wolf-like golden jackals. The scientific name for this wolf-like golden jackal was Canis aureus lupaster.
Then, in the January of last year, a study that compared the mitochondrial DNA of wolves and golden jackals, including these wolfish ones, revealed that the wolfish jackals were not golden jackals at all.
Instead, it was found that they represented a primitive mitochondrial lineage within Canis lupus.
So they were wolves after all.
However, that study also revealed that these wolves were also found in Ethiopia. Not to be confused with the critically endangered Ethiopian wolf (Canis simensis), the African wolves were an early branch of the Canis lupus species that invaded Africa and then became genetically isolated from the main wolf lineages of Eurasia and North America. This exact same issue exists with Himalayan and certain wolves from the Indian subcontinent. Their mitochondrial lineages are very old.
The discovery of Canis lupus wolves in Ethiopia was a bit of a shock, and the question that everyone want to know was exactly how extensive the African wolf’s range was.