The Falkland Islands Wolf was a beautiful species of wild canid found only on the Falkland Islands, an archipelago located 300 mi (480 km) off the coast of Argentina, near the bottom tip of South America, Tierra del Fuego. The Falkland Islands Wolf is technically considered a wolf, although it had a mix of wolf and fox-like characteristics and has been called a "wolf-like fox" as well. Its common name was the "Warrah."
The Falkland Islands Wolf went extinct in 1876 due to extermination by humans, who considered it a threat to livestock and also killed it for sport. The Falkland Islands Wolf is the only canid known to have gone extinct in historic times. It had a warm, thick coat with a tawny color and a tail with a black band and white tip on the end. The Falkland Islands Wolf was the only endemic mammal on the islands. Its diet is not known for certain, but it probably fed on seabirds.
The Falkland Islands Wolf was first discovered in 1692 by Captain John Strong, an English privateer, when he made one of the first known landings on the islands. The animals were highly curious and unafraid of humans, never having encountered them before, and facing little natural threats on this remote island. They were so docile that it was possible to kill the animals simply by holding a piece of meat in one hand and stabbing them with a knife in the other. The Falkland Islands Wolf was so reckless around humans that it had a habit of sneaking into men's tents and stealing meat right from under their noses.
The Falkland Islands Wolf is a biogeographical mystery. How did such a large mammal get to uninhabited islands 300 miles off the coast of South America? Endemic mammals on islands this isolated are rare -- most endemic insular mammals are found on islands no more than 30 mi from the coast, and even then, there are only two other confirmed instances -- the Island Fox of California and Darwin's Fox in Chile.
There are various theories about how the Falkland Island Wolf got there. Genetic tests on preserved remains indicate that it is most closely related to the Culpeo, or Patagonian Fox, but it was different enough to be given its own genus, Dusicyon. The Falkland Islands Wolf may have been a descendant of culpeos brought to the island by Patagonian natives long ago, or it may have traversed a land bridge from South America to the Falklands, which is thought to have existed during various glacial periods over the last two million years.