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Falkland Islands wolf arrived via ice bridge, scientists claim

The wolf was first spotted in the 17th century by European explorers and was later commented on by Charles Darwin in 1834.

Falkland wolfEnlarge
A new study has shed light on to how the now-extinct Falkland Islands wolf arrived to the island. (Wikipedia/Wikimedia commons)

New research claims that the mystery surrounding the origins and extinction of the Falkland Islands wolf may be solved.

The wolf was first spotted in the 17th century by European explorers and was later commented on by Charles Darwin in 1834, reported AFP.

The now-extinct wolf was the only terrestrial mammal on the island.

Previously, it was unclear how the wolf got to the island.

Theories posited the wolf was brought to the island, 300 miles from mainland Argentina, by either boat or ice float.

Researchers from Australia, Argentina and Chile compared museum fossils of the wolf, Dusicyon australis, to the genetic make-up of another South American mainland wolf, reported AFP.

They found that the species' had a nearly identical genome.

Researchers also found that the two species began to diverge during the end of the ice age about 10,000 to 20,000 years ago.

Low sea levels meant that Argentina stretched further out to sea nearly linking the island with the mainland.

During the winter, an ice bridge likely created a path that the wolf may have crossed to the Falklands, said Science NOW.

After the ice age, the wolf became trapped on the island.

"The Eureka moment was finding evidence of submarine terraces off the coast of Argentina," study author Alan Cooper said, reported UPI.

"They recorded the dramatically lowered sea levels during the Last Glacial Maximum [around 25,000-18,000 years ago]."

The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/130305/falkland-islands-wolf-arrived-ice-bridge-scientists-claim