The red wolf Canis rufus, formerly Canis lupus is a North American canid that once roamed throughout the Southeastern United States. Based on fossil and archaeological evidence, the original red wolf range extended throughout the southeast, from the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts, north to Indiana and the Ohio River Valley and central Pennsylvania, and west to central Texas and southeastern Missouri. Historical habitats included forests, swamps, and coastal prairies, where it was an apex predator. The red wolf is morphologically midway between grey wolves and coyotes, and a 2011 genetic study indicated that it may be a hybrid species between grey wolves and coyotes. Re-analysis of this study coupled with a broader contextual analysis including behavioral, morphological and additional genetic information led to arguments that the red wolf is an independent species but has suffered from significant introgression of coyote genes likely due to decimation of red wolf packs with fragmentation of their social structure from hunting. The most recent comprehensive review (in October 2012) of the genetics studies concluded that the red wolf, eastern wolf, and gray wolf were three distinct species.
Paleontological evidence has suggested an origin of the red wolf line 1–2 Ma, branching from a wolf-coyote ancestor, which itself appeared about 4.9 Ma. Between 150,000–300,000 years ago, the North American branch evolved into the red wolf, eastern wolf and the coyote. Another wolf-like branch migrated to Eurasia and evolved into the gray wolf, which later migrated to North America. It is thought that its original distribution included much of eastern North America, where red wolves were found from Maine south to Florida and in south central US westward to Texas. Records of bounty payments to Wappinger Indians in New York in the middle 18th century confirm its range at least that far north; it’s possible that it could have extended as far as extreme eastern Canada.(this from Wikipedia)
Red Wolf Proximal Phalange late Pleistocene
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