La Striata wrote:
Unless you're willing to classify coyotes and golden jackals as wolves, then Ethiopian wolves are not wolves
Look at this graph on canid genetics: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v4 ... -f10.2.jpg
As you can see, the coyote and golden jackal are just behind the wolf (meaning they are closely related), while the Ethiopian wolf is between them and African wild dogs/dholes.
You are not exactly right about the genetic distance between wolves, jackals, and coyotes. As you can see on your own chart, coyotes and wolves are more closely related to each other than wolves and jackals are.
There is a debate in science over whether a different species is defined as whether the animals CAN'T mate with another and produce offspring or DOESN'T mate with another and produce offspring, since a species is defined as the largest group capable of interbreeding and producing offspring. So for example, wolves and coyotes can produce offspring. Some scientists would say, therefore, that wolves and coyotes (and dogs) are actually all variations on the same species.
However, behaviorally, it's very rare for these species to interbreed. Another example would be ligers. Lions and tigers are genetically similar enough that they can breed and produce offspring. But even rarer than wolves, dogs, and coyotes, this probably NEVER happens in the wild. So other scientists would say these are species separated by their behavior, morphology, etc.
Since Ethiopian wolves, Gray wolves, and dogs can all mate with each other, they could be classified as the same species (and they are, by geneticists.) Jackals, however, can't mate at all with any of these creatures, and are decidedly a different species.
Just wanted to clear that up