Endangered African carnivore lived in Ethiopia for 1.5 million years: Study

Addis Ababa May 17/2023(ENA):- A study by Israel's Hebrew University of Jerusalem and American, Spanish and Italian teams found the first and unique fossil of an Ethiopian wolf from 1.5 million and not 20,000 years ago, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The first fossil – half of a jawbone – from an Ethiopian wolf in Africa has been found by experts from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (HU) and the University of California at Berkeley, along with Spanish and Italian paleontologists.

The study, published on Tuesday in the Journal Communications Biology under the title “The earliest Ethiopian wolf: implications for the species evolution and its future survival,” unambiguously proves that the ancient Ethiopian wolf Canis simensis existed in Africa some 1.5 million years ago and not 20,000 years ago according to previous theories that suggested the mammal arrived from EuroAsia. The discovery “constitutes the first empirical evidence that supports molecular interpretations.”

In 2017, the jawbone from the ancient wolf was found at the Melka Wakena site on the southeastern Ethiopian highlands about 2,300 meters above sea level. The specimen is the first and unique Pleistocene fossil of this species, the team wrote. 

Today, this species is one of the most endangered carnivores in Africa. 

“Bioclimate modeling applied to the time frame indicated by the fossil suggested that the lineage of the Ethiopian wolf faced severe survival challenges in the past, with consecutive drastic geographic range contractions during warmer periods. These models help to describe future scenarios for the survival of the species,” the authors continued.


Ethiopian News Agency