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Is this wild orange cat a new “subspecies,” a “living fossil” with a unique genome that arrived more than 8,000 years ago? This is what researchers are preparing to prove, making the “ghjattu puppy” a very special animal.
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When he fires it looks like an orange flash, or maybe yellow. Stealth, that ghyattu puppy – “cat-fox” in Corsican – is not a myth, however. Today, the French Office of Biodiversity (OFB) lists 40 of them (alive or dead), mainly in the Asco valley, located in the “upper center” of the island, but it is impossible to know their exact number. If the feline with the rusty coat and the bushy tail, which only owes its name to a resemblance to the fox and not to a cross, polarizes the attention of researchers so much, it is because it could represent a new sub-type of cat. Or rather proof of one “new cat population that makes more sense in biology”, reminiscent of Eva-Maria Geigl, director of research at CNRS and co-leader of the paleogenomics team (1). Enough to give the animal a statutory status to protect it. Because that’s where the fight is. It remains to be demonstrated by establishing its genetic map (with its own DNA) and phenotypic (fur and morphology), the only thing capable of proving that it is separate, indeed different from its congeners. But many mysteries remain.
“Unveiling a Carnivorous Mammal of the 21st Century”
Appointment is made in the village of Moltifao, 700 inhabitants, headquarters of a branch of the OFB that leads d