Image credit to Gerald D. Tang 

The One and Only!



  Chrysocyon brachyurus (Illiger, 1815).
Derived from Greek: Chrysocyon- GoldenDog   brachyurus- Short Body
Common name: Maned wolf or the red wolf

Here's a complete classification of the maned wolf with the listed attributes as to why it fits into that category.

Do Kids Play Catch Over Farmer Greg's Shed?

Domain: Eukayota
    Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Chordata
            Class: Mammalia
                Order: Carnivora
                    Family: Canidae
                        Genus: Chrysocyon
                            Species: Chrysocyon brachyurus

~~~Why Eukarya?~~~
The maned wolf is like other Eukaryotic organisms in that it is multicellular, and the cells it possess each have advanced internal structures such as a true nucleus and membrane bound organelles. Each cell divides through mitosis for cell division and contains multiple linear chromosomes ( 

~~~Why Animalia?~~~
The maned wolf can be classified under the Animalia kingdom because they are multicellular and heterotrophic in nature, meaning they obtain nutrients by ingestion. Maned wolves lack cell walls and have cells that are organized into tissues that have specific functions. They are mobile at some stage in their life ,which is also a characteristic of the Animalia kingdom (

~~~Why Chordata?~~~     
Maned wolves are a part of the phylum Chordata for many reasons. Firstly, they have bilateral symmetry which allows for a very distinct head region and segmentation. Also, maned wolves have three germ layers (triploblastic) and a complete digestive tract . Chordates are also identified by having a notochord at one time or another, as well as pharyngeal pouches, an endostyle (thyroid gland), and a dorsal, tubular nerve chord. Because the maned wolf matches this description, the organism can be classified under this phylum ( 

Eukarya Tree from Gerrish, Bio 203 2012             

The phylogenetic tree located in the above image shows a broad resolution of where Chordates  fit into the grand scheme of organisms in the Eukarya domain. This phylogenetic tree was constructed based on gene sequencing.    

~~~Why Mammalia?~~~
Maned wolves are under the class Mammalia because they are breathing vertebrate animals that possess hair, three middle ear bones, and mammary glands. The mothers nurse their young with milk. Mammals are endothermic, which means they are warm-blooded and maintain a constant body temperature (  

~~~Why Carnivora?~~~
As the name states, members of the order Carnivora are carnivores which means they primarily eat meat. Even though maned wolves are omnivores and eat some plants and fruit, they also consume large numbers of small vertebrates.  Carnivores have well-developed, prominent canine teeth and molars that have cutting edges, strong, sharp claws, and binocular vision to help catch their prey (  

~~~Why Canidae?~~~
Canidae is the biological family of domestic dogs, coyotes, jackals, foxes, wolves, and many other dog-like mammals. Canids have fairly long legs and limber bodies, and are adapted for chasing prey. Canids are digitigrade, meaning that they walk on their toes. They possess bushy tails, non-retractile claws, and a declaw, or thumb, on the front feet. Maned wolves most certainly fall into this family; however, they are unlike most candids because they live solitary lives; whereas almost all canids are social animals and live together in groups (

~~~Why Chrysocyon?~~~
Even though maned wolves are in the Canidae family, which contains dogs, wolves, and foxes, the maned wolf is the only species in the genus Chrysocyon.  The maned wolf is not closely related to any other living canid. It is not considered a fox, wolf, coyote, domestic dog, or jackal, but instead a distinct canid genus and species called Chrysocyon brachyurus (

Maned wolves are not considered a "true wolf," even though they are called wolves. They are the only large dog-like animal that does not form packs to bring down their prey. Maned wolves generally live in territories with just one mate of the opposite sex, which never hunt together and are rarely seen together. Added to that, they also eat a lot of fruit ( (Go to Nutrition).

Although they look like foxes and have the nickname “red fox on stilts” some may think the maned wolf is closely related to the foxes; however, they are not, for maned wolves do not have the elliptical pupils that characterize foxes (



Being one of the most distinctive animals in the Canidae family and in the world, the maned wolf has an evolutionary history dating back six million years to a time when many large canids became extinct in South America.  Since fossils of the maned wolf have been found in Brazil from the Holocene and late Pleistocene era, it has been concluded that of all the great sized South American canids, the maned wolf was the only survivor of the late Pleistocene extinction (Rodden, et al. 2008,

To the right is a picture of a dog mummy. Image courtesy to
Scottie Westfall

Many zoologists back in the nineteenth century thought that maned wolves were the most related to true wolves in Eurasia and North America. It’s actually not ( This species is most closely related to the wild dogs and other South American Canidae, such as the wolf-like foxes, the crab-eating fox, the short-eared dog, and the bush dog. The closest living relative is the bush dog which looks nothing similar to the maned wolf. Believe it or not, the bush dog has undersized legs and has chocolate-colored fur (,

Although now extinct, the maned wolf’s closest relative was the warrah, also known as the Falkland islands wolf (picture at right) (  A study published in 2009 claims that according to DNA evidence, out of all canids studied the Falkland islands wolf was the most closely related species to the maned wolf, and about 6 million years ago the two organisms had a common ancestor( Because both this organism and the maned wolf were bigger than the South American foxes, they were called “wolves” ( 

The image above shows the phylogenetic relationship between the maned wolf and its closest relatives. This tree was based on gene sequencing (COIImtDNA, CytB, and 4 nuclear loci)
I adapted this picture from the Evolutionary history of the Falklands wolf, 2009.


The image above shows the phylogenetic relationship between maned wolves and domestic dog breeds based on gene sequencing (draft genome sequencing). Image credit to Scottie Westfall.

To find out where maned wolves live, go to Habitat and Geography

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