Posted by: Loren Coleman on May 30th, 2007
New research indicates there are two distinct and separate Indian wolf species, Canis himalayensis and Canis indica.
Here is the abstract of the breaking journal article about this:
Two small endangered populations of Indian wolves were recently shown to be distant from other wolf and dog mtDNA lineages characterized so far. None of the inner branches in the tree of canid species based on partial hypervariable D-loop sequences were, however, statistically supported by the data raising the question whether the two Indian wolf lineages represent two new species, occupying an intermediate position between Canis latrans and C. lupus or have diverged from the sub-species of C. lupus due to isolation and drift. Here we report complete D-loop, cytochrome b, and 16S rRNA sequences data for 23 additional wolves from India analysed in the context of other canid species. Extended analyses of D-loop data and partial sequences of 16S rRNA showed highly reticulated pattern and were unable to resolve unambiguously the phylogenetic relationship of Indian wolves among other canid species. The phylogenetic reconstructions of cytochrome b sequences, however gave significant statistical support for the inner branches supporting genetic distinction of the two Indian wolf lineages within themselves as well as from all other wolves of the world, including individuals belonging to subspecies C. lupus chanco and C. lupus pallipes to which the two Indian wolf populations have been traditionally assigned. Their genetic differentiation relative to worldwide variation of wolves supports the suggestion to treat them as separate wolf species, C. himalayensis and C. indica. “Mitochondrial DNA coding region sequences support the phylogenetic distinction of two Indian wolf species,” by R. K. Aggarwal, T. Kivisild, J. Ramadevi; Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 45 (2), 163–172, May 2007.