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Submitted by on Nov 14, 2021

Jackals are medium-sized omnivorous animals belonging to the Canina subtribe, which also includes wolves and domesticated animals. While the term “jackal” has been used to describe a variety of small canines in the past, it is now most generally used to describe three species: the closely related black-backed and side-striped jackals of Sub-Saharan Africa, and the golden jackal of south-central Europe and Asia.

Jackals are scavengers and opportunistic omnivores that prey on tiny to medium-sized animals. Their long legs and curved canine teeth make them well-suited for hunting small mammals, birds, and reptiles, while their huge feet and fused leg bones make them well-suited for long-distance sprinting, allowing them to maintain speeds of 16 km/h (9.9 mph) for lengthy periods of time. Jackals are crepuscular animals, meaning they are most active at dawn and dusk.

A monogamous couple is the most prevalent social unit, and it protects its territory from other pairs by pursuing invading rivals and marking landmarks throughout the area with urine and feces. The territory may be large enough to accommodate some young adults who will remain with their parents until they are ready to build their own territories. Jackals may occasionally congregate in small groups to scavenge a cadaver, but they usually hunt alone or in pairs.

Because of the similarities between jackals and coyotes, Lorenz Oken separated them into a new genus, Thos, called after the classical Greek word “jackal,” in the third volume of his Lehrbuch der Naturgeschichte (1815), although his idea had no direct influence on taxonomy at the time. Angel Cabrera questioned whether the presence of a cingulum on the upper molars of jackals and its lack in the remainder of Canis might support a subdivision of that genus in his 1932 monograph on the animals of Morocco. Cabrera used the undivided-genus approach in practice, referring to jackals as Canis rather than Thos.

Edmund Heller, who believed in the distinct genus hypothesis, resurrected Oken’s Thos idea in 1914. Although the genus has been altered from Thos to Canis, Heller’s names and classifications for several jackal species and subspecies have survived in contemporary taxonomy.

The wolflike canids are a group of big carnivores that share 78 chromosomes, making them genetically similar. The Canis, Cuon, and Lycaon genera are included in this category. The dog (C. lupus familiaris), gray wolf (C. lupus), coyote (C. latrans), golden jackal (C. aureus), Ethiopian wolf (C. simensis), black-backed jackal (C. mesomelas), side-striped jackal (C. adustus), dhole (Cuon alpinus), and African wild dog (Cuon alpinus) are the members (Lycaon pictus).

The African golden wolf (C. anthus), which was formerly assumed to be an African branch of the golden jackal, is the newest member. All members of the genus Canis have 78 chromosomes, making them karyologically indistinguishable from each other, as well as the dhole and the African hunting dog. The two African jackals are the group’s most basic members, indicating that the lineage originated in Africa. Canis arnensis, the progenitor of contemporary jackals, arrived in Mediterranean Europe 1.9 million years ago.

According to Canis’ paraphyletic relationship with Lycaon and Cuon, it has been suggested that the two African jackals be classified to separate genera, Schaeffia for the side-striped jackal and Lupulella for the black-backed jackal, or Lupulella for both.

The Ethiopian wolf’s intermediate size and appearance has led to it being referred to as a jackal at times, earning it the nickname “red jackal” or “Simien jackal.”

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