Phonetic: Kay-niss lu-pus kris-tal-de.
Named By: Francesco Maria Angelici & Lorenzo Rossi - 2018.
Classification: Chordata, Mammalia, Carnivora, Canidae, Canis, C. lupus.
Species: Canis lupus cristaldii.
Size: 105 centimetres long, 54.6 centimetres high at the shoulder.
Known locations: Sicily.
Time period: End of the Pleistocene to Holocene.
Fossil representation: Remains of many individuals.
Sicilian wolf is a distinct sub species of the gray wolf with the
species designation Canis lupus cristaldii. The
Sicilian wolf was
similar to those known from Italy, though with lighter more tawny
coloured fur. The dark band across the forelimbs of the Italian
wolf was absent or at most faintly defined upon the Sicilian wolf.
The extinction of the Sicilian wolf is directly attributable to human activity. Initially this was a case of hunting the same animals that the Sicilian wolf hunted until the point that prey animals began to disappear from Sicily. Then later and often seen as dangerous and a threat to livestock, wolves were persecuted further and actively hunted in order to protect livestock. The last confirmed killing of a Sicilian wolf took place at some point in the second half of the twentieth century probably either 1920s or 1930s. Occasional sightings of the Sicilian wolf continued into the middle decades of the twentieth century, but no evidence for survival has been found, and the Sicilian wolf is now presumed extinct.
The Sicilian wolf was only confirmed as belonging to a distinct sub species in 2018 when DNA samples extracted from teeth and skulls of Sicilian wolves were studied and found to be very similar yet markedly different to those samples taken from wolves from the Italy. Studies of the DNA suggest that this divergence took place over thirteen thousand years ago, which is also thought to be the last time that Sicily was joined to mainland Italy via land bridge. This land bridge disappeared towards the end of the Pleistocene when global temperatures rose causing the ice sheets to melt and raise sea levels submerging the land bridge. This caused the wolves on Sicily to be cut off from those on the mainland. This limited the gene pool so that after successive generations, a new sub species of wolf emerged.
- A new subspecies of grey wolf (Carnivora, Canidae), recently extinct, from Sicily, Italy. - Bollettino del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Verona. 42: 3–15. - Francesco Maria Angelici & Lorenzo Rossi - 2018.
- Biodiversity lost: The phylogenetic relationships of a complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequenced from the extinct wolf population of Sicily. - Mammalian Biology. 98: 1–10. - Stefano Reale, EttoreRandi, ValentinaCumbo, IgnazioSammarco, FlorianaBonanno, AntonioSpinnato & SalvatoreSeminara - 2019.