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White norwegian forest cat
The white norwegian forest cat (Felis silvestris lapponica) is a small to medium-sized carnivore of the domestic cat family. It is similar to the true European forest cat, but its coat is grayish in colour. The origin and species status of the Norwegians is disputed, though they are closely related to the true forest cat (F. silvestris).
Taxonomy and evolution
In the past, the white norwegian forest cat has been regarded as a subspecies of the European forest cat (F. silvestris), based on superficial similarities, notably its greyer coat. The name "Norwegian forest cat" may have been used in the 19th century when taxonomists believed that the Norwegian Forest cat (F. silvestris) is the same species as the European Forest cat (F. silvestris). In 1966, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature confirmed the name Felis silvestris lapponica as the accepted name for the white Norwegian forest cat. As such, the white Norwegian forest cat (Felis lapponica) should not be confused with the Norwegian Forest cat (F. silvestris), also known as the "Norwegian forest cat" (in North America and Europe).
According to an analysis of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), the white Norwegian forest cat (Felis lapponica) is genetically most similar to the domestic cat (Felis catus), and more distant from the domestic cat's closest relative, the jungle cat (F. concolor).
In the phylogenetic tree, Felis lapponica is found to form a separate clade, and Felis catus is found to be the most closely related to the white Norwegian forest cat. Felis lapponica has further been suggested to be the oldest subspecies of the white Norwegian forest cat, and Felis catus the most recent subspecies, as Felis lapponica was first described in 1917, more than two hundred years before the first description of the white Norwegian forest cat.
F. lapponica was originally described in 1778. It is not found in Svalbard, but in areas west to south-west of the Lappi plateau, and south to the Ural mountains. In Russia, the eastern population is found in the Tver, Nizhny Novgorod and Arkhangelsk Oblasts, and in the Komi Republic. The western population is found in the Barents, Kola, Kandalaksha, Taymyr, Vologda and the Ryazan oblasts. The population in the Ryazan oblast was discovered in 1996, and the first litter of the new population was born in 2000.
The last report of a sighting of a white Norwegian forest cat (F. lapponica) in Finland was in 1995.
F. lapponica is a subspecies of the white Norwegian forest cat, and is closely related to the red Norwegian forest cat. It is further closely related to the other extant subspecies of the white Norwegian forest cat, F. catus.
Category:Mammals of Europe
Category:Mammals of Russia
Category:Mammals of Finland