We have analysed the chromosomes of three wild and endangered canid species: the maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), the bat-eared fox (Otocyon megalotis) and the fennec fox (Fennecuszerda) using classical and molecular cytogenetic methods. For the first time detailed and encompassing descriptions of the chromosomes are presented including the chromosomal assignment of nucleolar organizer regions and the 5S rRNA gene cluster. We propose a karyotype nomenclature with ideograms including more than 300 bands per haploid set for each of these three species which will form the basis for further research. In addition, we propose four basic different patterns of karyotype organization in the family Canidae. A comparison of these patterns with the most recent molecular phylogeny of Canidae revealed that the karyotype evolution of a species is not always strongly connected with its phylogenetic position. Our findings underline the need and justification for basic cytogenetic work in rare and exotic species.

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