Quagga

From Academic Kids

Quagga
Conservation status: Extinct (1883)
Missing image
Quagga_photo.jpg
Quagga


Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Mammalia
Order:Perissodactyla
Family:Equidae
Genus:Equus
Species:quagga
Subspecies:quagga
Trinomial name
Equus quagga quagga
Boddaert, 1785

The Quagga is an extinct subspecies of the Plains Zebra, which was once found in great numbers in South Africa's Cape Province and the southern part of the Orange Free State. It was distinguished from other zebras by having the usual vivid stripes on the front part of the body only. In the mid-section, the stripes faded and the dark, inter-stripe spaces became wider, and the hindquarters were a plain brown. The name comes from a Khoikhoi word for zebra and is onomatopoeic, being said to resemble the Quagga's call.

The Quagga was originally classified as an individual species, Equus quagga, in 1788. Over the next 50 years or so, many other zebras were described by naturalists and explorers. Because of the great variation in coat patterns (no two zebras are alike), taxonomists were left with a great number of described "species", and no easy way to tell which of these were true species, which were subspecies, and which were simply natural variants.

Missing image
QuaggaIllustration.jpg
1793 illustration of the Quagga stallion of Louis XVI menagerie at Versailles.

Long before this confusion was sorted out, the Quagga had been hunted to extinction for meat, hides, and to preserve feed for domesticated stock. The last wild Quagga was probably shot in the late 1870s, and the last specimen in captivity died on August 12, 1883 at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam. Because of the great confusion between different zebra species, particularly among the general public, the Quagga had become extinct before it was realised that it appeared to be a separate species.

Recent genetic research, however, has demonstrated that the Quagga was in fact not a separate species at all, just a subspecies of the very variable Plains Zebra Equus burchelli, which suggests that it should be named Equus burchelli quagga. However, according to the rules of biological nomenclature, where there are two or more alternative names for a single species, the name first used takes priority. As the Quagga was described about 30 years earlier than the Plains Zebra, it appears that the correct terms are E. quagga quagga for the Quagga and E. quagga burchelli for the Plains Zebra.

After the very close relationship between the Quagga and surviving zebras was discovered, workers in South Africa began a project to recreate the Quagga by selective breeding from Plains Zebra stock, with the eventual aim of reintroducing them to the wild. This type of breeding is also called Breeding back.

External links

cs:Kvaga de:Quagga es:Quagga he:קואגה it:Quagga nl:Quagga pt:Quagga sv:Kvagga

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