Scientists may have discovered a new 'cat fox' species on a French Island

Researchers have located 16 of the creatures.
Researchers have located 16 of the creatures. Photo credit: AFP

Scientists believe they have discovered a new species of "cat foxes" on a French Island.

Wildlife researchers have located 16 of the creatures which are said to resemble a domestic cat, while also having stripes on the front legs, dark back legs and a silky, thick coat, AFP reports. Its tail is long with rings and a black tip, which is how it earned the name "cat fox".

The discovery was made by the National Hunting and Wildlife Office in France.

Since 2016, researchers have been able to capture 12 of the felines so they can be examined, AFP reports. They are then released back into the habitat in northern Corsica.

The research commenced in 2012.

"By looking at its DNA, we could tell it apart from the European wildcat," said wildlife office chief environmental technician Pierre Benedetti.

"We believe that it's a wild natural species which was known, but not specifically identified because it's an extremely inconspicuous animal with nocturnal habitats.

"It's a wonderful discovery," he told AFP.

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