Monday, March 14, 2011

The African Wolf: no data accessible

The discovery that there is a wolf and not a jackal in Africa has recently been widely published in the news. This is based on a publication in PLoSOne by Rueness et al. There has been some older morphological evidence for the long kept secret that, despite the saying that there is no wolf in Africa, and there was always the insight from egyptian zoologist that there is a wolf population in Fayoum, that is distinct from the jackals in other places. Furthermore, the jackals also seeemed to be small relative to the rest of the population, especially those from the Qattara depression.

When I read through the article by Rueness et al., it was striking that it is impossible to find what specimens they used and from they originate. The citation leads to the master thesis by Nassef (Nassef M (2003) The Ecology and Evolution of the golden jackal (Canis aureus) Investigating a cryptid species. Master thesis. The university of Leeds.), where I can not get any further. I fist search on Google doesn't reveal the whereabout of Nassef, so I will contact the authors.

I think it is not a good policy for both PLoS-One and the authors to keep back all the observation data in a case that is clearly very important and far reaching. It is a very small data set, and I wonder, how well the samples kept in Egypt have been used to figure out that there might actually a jackal AND a wolf species living close to each other.


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