The inhabitants of a small French island in the Mediterranean have depended on agriculture and livestock herding, surrounded by breathtaking beaches and rugged mountains.
For generations, stories of a mysterious creature have been handed down in Corsica’s island mythology. According to a news release from the French Office for Biodiversity on March 16, the “Ghjattu Volpe,” which means “cat-fox” when translated, is said to be lurking nearby.
Carlu-Antone Cecchini, a researcher and wildlife official, stated in 2019 that the cat-fox is a part of their shepherd mythology.According to the news outlet, there were tales passed down from one generation to the next about forest cats attacking the udders of their ewes and goats.
French officials mentioned that local officials started recognizing the cat-fox as a legitimate species in the 19th and 20th centuries, but for many people, it was still just a legend.However, in 2008, everything changed when the creature was unintentionally captured.
The feline was of medium size and had a tannish-orange color. It was discovered in a nearby chicken coop, as reported by AFP.The research has been published in Nature Communications.
Following the incident, there was an influx of research on the cat-fox. French biodiversity officials stated that scientists were aware of the cat-fox’s existence, but had little knowledge about it.
Officials have confirmed that the Corsican cat-fox is a distinct new species.The recent study found that the wildcat had unique genetic characteristics that set it apart from its three closest relatives: domestic cats in mainland France, wildcats in mainland Europe, and wildcats on the neighboring island of Sardinia.
Researchers studying the cat-fox, including Pierre Benedetti, explained that the animal’s secretive and nocturnal nature played a part in it remaining hidden for so long.As Benedetti told RFI in 2019, the cat-fox is “a very discreet, nocturnal animal.” Furthermore, the creature’s habitat in the isolated and mountainous Corsican island also aided its ability to stay undetected, according to researchers featured in a video by AFP.