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The golden jackal (Canis aureus) is a wolf-like canid that is native to Southeast Europe, Southwest Asia, South Asia, and regions of Southeast Asia. Compared with the Arabian wolf (Canis lupus arabs), which is the smallest gray wolf subspecies, the jackal is smaller and possesses shorter legs, a shorter tail, a more elongated torso, a less-prominent forehead, and a narrower and more pointed muzzle. The golden jackal's coat can vary in color from a pale creamy yellow in summer to a dark tawny beige in winter. It is listed as 'least concern' on the IUCN Red List due to its widespread distribution and high density in areas with plenty of available food and optimum shelter. Despite its name, the golden jackal is not closely related to the African black-backed jackal or side-striped jackal, which are part of the genus Lupulella, being instead closer to wolves and coyotes. The ancestor of the golden jackal is believed to be the extinct Arno river dog that lived in Mediterranean Europe 1. 9 million years ago. It is described as having been a small, jackal-like canine. Genetic studies indicate that the golden jackal expanded from India around 20, 000 years ago, towards the end of the last ice age. The oldest golden jackal fossil, found at the Ksar Akil rock shelter near Beirut, Lebanon, is 7, 600 years old. The oldest golden jackal fossils in Europe were found in Greece and are 7, 000 years old.
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