(ORDO NEWS) — For a long time, scientists believed that the mysterious “cat-fox” from the island of Corsica is a descendant of feral domestic cats. But now geneticists have found out that this is a separate type of cat.
For many years shepherds from the French island of Corsica have been talking about the elusive “cat-fox” – a mysterious animal that hides in the dense mountain forests during the day, and descends into the valleys at night to attack weak lambs or drink milk from sheep and goats.
However, scientists considered these animals only feral domestic cats and did not pay much attention to them.
It wasn’t until 2008 that one of these animals was caught after climbing into a chicken coop, giving researchers the opportunity to obtain tissue samples and measure the strange cat.
The “shepherd’s tale” turned out to be quite real, and now, having received the results of a genetic analysis, the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) has recognized these cats as a separate species.
The results of the genetic analysis clearly showed that Corsican wild cats differ not only from forest cats, but also from domestic cats from Corsica, Sardinia and the mainland.
In other words, what we have before us is not an island population of forest cats and not the feral descendants of domestic cats, but a unique genetic line, whose origin and exact taxonomic status have yet to be clarified.
The researchers now plan to study the distribution and behavior of Corsican cats in more detail, as well as collect additional samples for research and equip captured animals with GPS collars to track their movements.
Fortunately, wild cats differ markedly from domestic cats in their solid size (up to 90 centimeters from head to tail), dense silky fur and a remarkable black tail tip. So it will not be difficult to distinguish it from other cats.
The discovery of a new and unique population of wild cats on an island as well studied as Corsica is an amazing event that highlights the possibility of preserving unusual species of animals literally under human noses.
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