Jackal
Overview
Although the word jackal has been historically used to refer to many small- to medium-sized species of the wolf genus of mammals, Canis
Canis
Canis is a genus containing 7 to 10 extant species, including dogs, wolves, coyotes, and jackals, and many extinct species.-Wolves, dogs and dingos:Wolves, dogs and dingos are subspecies of Canis lupus...

, today it most properly and commonly refers to three species: the black-backed jackal
Black-backed Jackal
The black-backed jackal , also known as the silver-backed or red jackal, is a species of jackal which inhabits two areas of the African continent separated by roughly 900 km. One region includes the southern-most tip of the continent, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe...

 and the side-striped jackal
Side-striped Jackal
The side-striped jackal is a species of jackal, native to central and southern Africa. Unlike its cousin, the smaller black-backed jackal, which dwells in open plains, the side-striped jackal primarily dwells in woodland and scrub areas....

 of sub-Saharan Africa, and the golden jackal
Golden Jackal
The golden jackal , also known as the common jackal, Asiatic jackal, thos or gold-wolf is a Canid of the genus Canis indigenous to north and northeastern Africa, southeastern and central Europe , Asia Minor, the Middle East and southeast Asia...

 of northern Africa and south-central Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

. The Black-backed and Side-striped Jackals are more closely related to each other than they are to the Golden Jackal, which is closer to wolves, dogs, and coyotes.

Jackals and coyote
Coyote
The coyote , also known as the American jackal or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States and Canada...

s (sometimes called the "American jackal")) are opportunistic omnivores; predators of small- to medium-sized animals and proficient scavenger
Scavenger
Scavenging is both a carnivorous and herbivorous feeding behavior in which individual scavengers search out dead animal and dead plant biomass on which to feed. The eating of carrion from the same species is referred to as cannibalism. Scavengers play an important role in the ecosystem by...

s.
Encyclopedia
Although the word jackal has been historically used to refer to many small- to medium-sized species of the wolf genus of mammals, Canis
Canis
Canis is a genus containing 7 to 10 extant species, including dogs, wolves, coyotes, and jackals, and many extinct species.-Wolves, dogs and dingos:Wolves, dogs and dingos are subspecies of Canis lupus...

, today it most properly and commonly refers to three species: the black-backed jackal
Black-backed Jackal
The black-backed jackal , also known as the silver-backed or red jackal, is a species of jackal which inhabits two areas of the African continent separated by roughly 900 km. One region includes the southern-most tip of the continent, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe...

 and the side-striped jackal
Side-striped Jackal
The side-striped jackal is a species of jackal, native to central and southern Africa. Unlike its cousin, the smaller black-backed jackal, which dwells in open plains, the side-striped jackal primarily dwells in woodland and scrub areas....

 of sub-Saharan Africa, and the golden jackal
Golden Jackal
The golden jackal , also known as the common jackal, Asiatic jackal, thos or gold-wolf is a Canid of the genus Canis indigenous to north and northeastern Africa, southeastern and central Europe , Asia Minor, the Middle East and southeast Asia...

 of northern Africa and south-central Eurasia
Eurasia
Eurasia is a continent or supercontinent comprising the traditional continents of Europe and Asia ; covering about 52,990,000 km2 or about 10.6% of the Earth's surface located primarily in the eastern and northern hemispheres...

. The Black-backed and Side-striped Jackals are more closely related to each other than they are to the Golden Jackal, which is closer to wolves, dogs, and coyotes.

Jackals and coyote
Coyote
The coyote , also known as the American jackal or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States and Canada...

s (sometimes called the "American jackal")) are opportunistic omnivores; predators of small- to medium-sized animals and proficient scavenger
Scavenger
Scavenging is both a carnivorous and herbivorous feeding behavior in which individual scavengers search out dead animal and dead plant biomass on which to feed. The eating of carrion from the same species is referred to as cannibalism. Scavengers play an important role in the ecosystem by...

s. Their long legs and curved canine teeth
Canine tooth
In mammalian oral anatomy, the canine teeth, also called cuspids, dogteeth, fangs, or eye teeth, are relatively long, pointed teeth...

 are adapted for hunting small mammal
Mammal
Mammals are members of a class of air-breathing vertebrate animals characterised by the possession of endothermy, hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands functional in mothers with young...

s, birds, and reptile
Reptile
Reptiles are members of a class of air-breathing, ectothermic vertebrates which are characterized by laying shelled eggs , and having skin covered in scales and/or scutes. They are tetrapods, either having four limbs or being descended from four-limbed ancestors...

s, and their large feet and fused leg bones give them a physique well-suited for long-distance running, capable of maintaining speeds of 16 km/h (9.9 mph) for extended periods of time. Jackals are crepuscular
Crepuscular
Crepuscular animals are those that are active primarily during twilight, that is during dawn and dusk. The word is derived from the Latin word crepusculum, meaning "twilight." Crepuscular is, thus, in contrast with diurnal and nocturnal behavior. Crepuscular animals may also be active on a bright...

, most active at dawn and dusk.

Their most common social unit
Social unit
Social unit is a term used in sociology, anthropology, ethnology, and also in animal behaviour studies, zoology and biology to describe a social entity which is part of and participates in a larger social group or society....

 is that of a monogamous
Monogamy
Monogamy /Gr. μονός+γάμος - one+marriage/ a form of marriage in which an individual has only one spouse at any one time. In current usage monogamy often refers to having one sexual partner irrespective of marriage or reproduction...

 pair which defends its territory from other pairs by vigorously chasing intruding rivals and marking landmarks around the territory with their urine
Urine
Urine is a typically sterile liquid by-product of the body that is secreted by the kidneys through a process called urination and excreted through the urethra. Cellular metabolism generates numerous by-products, many rich in nitrogen, that require elimination from the bloodstream...

 and feces
Feces
Feces, faeces, or fæces is a waste product from an animal's digestive tract expelled through the anus or cloaca during defecation.-Etymology:...

. The territory may be large enough to hold some young adults which stay with their parents until they establish their own territories. Jackals may occasionally assemble in small packs, for example to scavenge a carcass, but they normally hunt either alone or in pairs.

Etymology

The English word "jackal" derives from Persian
Persian language
Persian is an Iranian language within the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-European languages. It is primarily spoken in Iran, Afghanistan, Tajikistan and countries which historically came under Persian influence...

  , via Turkish
Turkish language
Turkish is a language spoken as a native language by over 83 million people worldwide, making it the most commonly spoken of the Turkic languages. Its speakers are located predominantly in Turkey and Northern Cyprus with smaller groups in Iraq, Greece, Bulgaria, the Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo,...

 çakal, ultimately from Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

  .

Taxonomy and relationships

The taxonomy of the jackals has evolved with scientific understanding about how they are related on the canid family tree.

Similarities between jackals and coyotes led Lorenz Oken
Lorenz Oken
Lorenz Oken was a German naturalist.Oken was born Lorenz Okenfuss in Bohlsbach in Baden and studied natural history and medicine at the universities of Freiburg and Würzburg. He went on to the University of Göttingen, where he became a Privatdozent , and shortened his name to Oken...

, in 1816, in the third volume of his Lehrbuch der Naturgeschichte, to place these species into a new separate genus, Thos, after the classical Greek word "jackal", but his theory had little immediate impact on taxonomy at the time. Angel Cabrera
Angel Cabrera
Ángel Cabrera is an Argentine professional golfer who plays on both the European Tour and PGA Tour. He is known affectionately as "El Pato" in Spanish or in English as "The duck" for his waddling gait. He is a former U.S. Open champion and Masters champion. He is the first Argentine to win either...

, in his 1932 monograph on the mammals of Morocco
Morocco
Morocco , officially the Kingdom of Morocco , is a country located in North Africa. It has a population of more than 32 million and an area of 710,850 km², and also primarily administers the disputed region of the Western Sahara...

, questioned whether or not the presence of a cingulum
Cingulum (tooth)
In dentistry, cingulum refers to an anatomical feature of the anterior teeth . It refers to the portion of the teeth, occurring on the lingual or palatal aspects, that forms a convex protuberance at the cervical third of the anatomic crown. It represents the lingual or palatal developmental lobe...

 on the upper molars
Molar (tooth)
Molars are the rearmost and most complicated kind of tooth in most mammals. In many mammals they grind food; hence the Latin name mola, "millstone"....

 of the jackals and its corresponding absence in the rest of Canis
Canis
Canis is a genus containing 7 to 10 extant species, including dogs, wolves, coyotes, and jackals, and many extinct species.-Wolves, dogs and dingos:Wolves, dogs and dingos are subspecies of Canis lupus...

could justify a subdivision of the genus Canis. In practice, Cabrera chose the undivided-genus alternative and referred to the jackals as Canis instead of Thos.

Oken's Thos theory was revived in 1914 by Edmund Heller
Edmund Heller
Edmund Heller was an American zoologist.Heller attended Stanford University in 1896 and finished his study of zoology with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1901. From 1926 to 1928 he was curator of mammals at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago...

, who embraced the separate genus theory. Heller's names and the designations he gave to various jackal species and subspecies live on in current taxonomy, although the genus has been changed from Thos to Canis.

Modern research has clarified the relationships among the "jackal" species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

. Despite their similarities, jackals do not all stem from the same branch on the canid family tree. The side-striped jackal
Side-striped Jackal
The side-striped jackal is a species of jackal, native to central and southern Africa. Unlike its cousin, the smaller black-backed jackal, which dwells in open plains, the side-striped jackal primarily dwells in woodland and scrub areas....

 and black-backed jackal
Black-backed Jackal
The black-backed jackal , also known as the silver-backed or red jackal, is a species of jackal which inhabits two areas of the African continent separated by roughly 900 km. One region includes the southern-most tip of the continent, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe...

 belong to a branch of canids that includes the dhole
Dhole
The dhole is a species of canid native to South and Southeast Asia. It is the only extant member of the genus Cuon, which differs from Canis by the reduced number of molars and greater number of teats...

 and African wild dog
African Wild Dog
Lycaon pictus is a large canid found only in Africa, especially in savannas and lightly wooded areas. It is variously called the African wild dog, African hunting dog, Cape hunting dog, painted dog, painted wolf, painted hunting dog, spotted dog, or ornate wolf...

, while golden jackal
Golden Jackal
The golden jackal , also known as the common jackal, Asiatic jackal, thos or gold-wolf is a Canid of the genus Canis indigenous to north and northeastern Africa, southeastern and central Europe , Asia Minor, the Middle East and southeast Asia...

, on the other hand, belongs to a branch which includes the Ethiopian wolf
Ethiopian Wolf
The Ethiopian wolf , also known as the Abyssinian wolf, Abyssinian fox, red jackal, Simien fox, or Simien jackal is a canid native to Africa...

, the coyote
Coyote
The coyote , also known as the American jackal or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States and Canada...

, and Canis lupus, the grey wolf/domestic dog.

Breeding experiments in Germany with breeding poodle
Poodle
The Poodle is a breed of dog. The poodle breed is found officially in toy, miniature, and standard sizes, with many coat colors. Originally bred as a type of water dog, the poodle is highly intelligent and skillful in many dog sports, including agility, obedience, tracking, and even herding...

s and golden jackals can produce hybrids
Canid hybrid
Canid hybrids are the result of interbreeding between different species of the canine family -Genetic considerations:Members of the dog genus Canis: wolves, dogs , coyotes, and golden jackals cannot interbreed with members of the wider dog family: the Canidae, such as South American canids, foxes,...

. The results showed that, unlike wolf-dog hybrids, jackal-dog hybrid
Jackal-Dog Hybrid
A jackal–dog hybrid is a canid hybrid resulting from a mating between a dog and a golden jackal. Such crossbreeding apparently only occurs in captivity, as such matings in the wild have never been observed...

s show a decrease in fertility
Fertility
Fertility is the natural capability of producing offsprings. As a measure, "fertility rate" is the number of children born per couple, person or population. Fertility differs from fecundity, which is defined as the potential for reproduction...

, significant communication problems, and an increase of genetic disorder
Genetic disorder
A genetic disorder is an illness caused by abnormalities in genes or chromosomes, especially a condition that is present from before birth. Most genetic disorders are quite rare and affect one person in every several thousands or millions....

s after three generations of interbreeding, much like coydog
Coydog
A coydog is the hybrid offspring of a male coyote and a female dog . Together they are genetically capable of producing fertile young. The dogote, a similar hybrid, is the result of breeding a male domestic dog with a female coyote...

s.

Species

Species Trinomial authority Description Range
Side-striped jackal
Side-striped Jackal
The side-striped jackal is a species of jackal, native to central and southern Africa. Unlike its cousin, the smaller black-backed jackal, which dwells in open plains, the side-striped jackal primarily dwells in woodland and scrub areas....


Canis adustus
Sundevall
Carl Jakob Sundevall
Carl Jakob Sundevall was a Swedish zoologist.Sundevall studied at Lund University, where he became a Ph.D. in 1823. After traveling to East Asia, he studied medicine, graduating as Doctor of Medicine in 1830....

, 1847
Primarily residing in wooded areas, unlike other jackal species, it is the least aggressive of the jackals, rarely preying on large mammals. Central
Central Africa
Central Africa is a core region of the African continent which includes Burundi, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Rwanda....

 and southern Africa
Golden jackal
Golden Jackal
The golden jackal , also known as the common jackal, Asiatic jackal, thos or gold-wolf is a Canid of the genus Canis indigenous to north and northeastern Africa, southeastern and central Europe , Asia Minor, the Middle East and southeast Asia...


Canis aureus
Linnaeus, 1758 The heaviest of the jackals, it is the only species to subsist outside of Africa. Although often grouped with the other jackals, genetic and morphological research indicate the golden jackal is more closely related to the gray wolf
Gray Wolf
The gray wolf , also known as the wolf, is the largest extant wild member of the Canidae family...

 and the coyote
Coyote
The coyote , also known as the American jackal or the prairie wolf, is a species of canine found throughout North and Central America, ranging from Panama in the south, north through Mexico, the United States and Canada...

.
Northern Africa, southeastern Europe, the Middle East, western Asia, and South Asia
South Asia
South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

Black-backed jackal
Black-backed Jackal
The black-backed jackal , also known as the silver-backed or red jackal, is a species of jackal which inhabits two areas of the African continent separated by roughly 900 km. One region includes the southern-most tip of the continent, including South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe...


Canis mesomelas
Schreber
Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber
Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber , often styled I.C.D. von Schreber, was a German naturalist.-Career:He was elected Professor of Materia medica at the University of Erlangen in 1769....

, 1775
The most lightly-built jackal, this is considered to be the oldest living member of the genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 Canis
Canis
Canis is a genus containing 7 to 10 extant species, including dogs, wolves, coyotes, and jackals, and many extinct species.-Wolves, dogs and dingos:Wolves, dogs and dingos are subspecies of Canis lupus...

. It is the most aggressive of the jackals, having been known to attack animal prey many times its own weight, and it has more quarrelsome intrapack relationships
Southern Africa and eastern coast of Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

, Somalia
Somalia
Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

, and Ethiopia
Ethiopia
Ethiopia , officially known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. It is the second-most populous nation in Africa, with over 82 million inhabitants, and the tenth-largest by area, occupying 1,100,000 km2...



The Ethiopian wolf
Ethiopian Wolf
The Ethiopian wolf , also known as the Abyssinian wolf, Abyssinian fox, red jackal, Simien fox, or Simien jackal is a canid native to Africa...

 (Canis simensis) (Ruppell
Eduard Rüppell
Wilhelm Peter Eduard Simon Rüppell was a German naturalist and explorer. Rüppell is occasionally transliterated to "Rueppell" for the English alphabet....

, 1840)
of the Ethiopian highlands has at times been regarded as a jackal, hence were called the "red jackal" or the "simian jackal", but these are now usually classified as wolves.

External links

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