Researchers at the National Office for Hunting and Wildlife claim the Corsica “cat-fox” could be a new species of feline, following a study on the animal presented on Friday, Radio France Internationale reports.
Although the “cat-fox” initially appears to be a regular domesticated cat, it is actually quite bigger than the average feline, with larger ears and a body measuring around three feet in length, according to researchers involved with the study.
The Corsica “cat-fox” also has overly-developed canine teeth and black tufts of fur at the end of its tail.
“It’s a very discreet, nocturnal animal,” says Pierre Benedetti, an environmental technician and researcher with the National Office for Hunting and Wildlife. “This is an extraordinary discovery”
VIDEO: In the Asco forest in Corsica, two agents of the National Hunting and Wildlife Office (ONCFS) show AFP what they think is a new feline species pic.twitter.com/txeLeqzjhw— AFP news agency (@AFP) June 14, 2019
While the Corsica “cat-fox” may be a newly discovered species, Bendetti says the animal has been written about in literature in the past, and accused, by local shepherds, of killing smaller livestock.
However, Friday’s presentation was the first time the cat’s existence has been scientifically proposed.
Carlu-Antone Cecchini, a scientist in charge of wildcat research for the organization, told the Agence France-Presse that the “cat-fox” feline species has been considered a myth, and that many people “thought they were crazy” for pursuing it.
A lone Corsica “cat-fox” was initially discovered after getting caught in a chicken coop in Olcani on the Mediterranean island back in 2008, when researchers first began tracking the wildcat.
Since then, 12 of the felines have been captured and examined by researchers before being released back into the wild.
Hair taken from infrared traps showed that the DNA of a Corsica “cat-fox” differed from that of European wildcats, prompting researchers to take a further look into the potentially newly-discovered species.
The male cat depicted in the video and photos above, aged between four and six years old, was implanted with an electronic chip to track its movements. The cat was also fitted with a GPS collar, according to researchers.
While Friday’s presentation on the species certainly illuminates the existence of this furry “cat-fox” hybrid, it will take more time to fully comprehend the animals eating and reproductive habits.
“It could’ve arrived at the time of the second human colonization which dates back 6,500 years before our era. If this hypothesis is confirmed, it’s origin would be considered middle-eastern,” Benedetti posited.
“Ultimately, we would like to see this cat recognized and protected.”