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The creature from Corsican legends turned out to be a new kind of cat

Added Sun, 19/03/2023
Дата публикации
Sun, 19/03/2023

For a long time, scientists believed that the mysterious "fox cat" from Corsica was a descendant of wild domestic cats. But now geneticists have discovered that this is a separate species of cats.

Shepherds from French Corsica have been talking for many years about the elusive "cat-fox" — a mysterious animal that hides in dense mountain forests during the day, and descends into the valleys at night to attack weak lambs or drink the milk of sheep and goats. . However, scientists considered these animals only feral domestic cats and did not pay much attention to them.

Only in 2008, one of these animals was caught after entering the chicken coop, which gave scientists the opportunity to take tissue samples and measure the strange cat. The "shepherd's tale" turned out to be quite real, and now, having received the results of genetic analysis, the French Office for Biodiversity (OFB) has recognized these cats as a separate species.

The results of genetic analysis clearly showed that Corsican wildcats differ not only from forest cats, but also from domestic cats from Corsica, Sardinia and the mainland. In other words, we are not facing an island population of forest cats and not wild descendants of domestic cats, but a unique genetic line, the origin and exact taxonomic status of which have not yet been clarified.

Now the researchers plan to study in more detail the distribution and behavior of Corsican cats, as well as collect additional samples for study and provide the captured animals with GPS collars to track their movements. Fortunately, wild cats differ significantly from domestic cats with their solid size (up to 90 centimeters from head to tail), thick silky fur and an unusual black tip of the tail. So it will not be difficult to distinguish her from other cats.

The discovery of a new and unique population of wild cats on such a well—studied island as Corsica is an incredible event that demonstrates the possibility of preserving unusual species of animals literally under the nose of a person.

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