The curious case of Gazella arabica
Gazella arabica Lichtenstein, 1827, a gazelle species currently classified as “data deficient” on the IUCN Red List, has puzzled researchers for more than a century. The type specimens have repeatedly been classified as subspecies of G. gazella, G. dorcas or a distinct species since their first description about 180 years ago. Especially the skull is causing problems, as no similar gazelle individual has ever been found. We unravel the identity of G. arabica by sequencing two mitochondrial markers from the skull and skin which constitute the G. arabica lectotype and by performing a phylogenetic analysis of the genus. The results show that the lectotype skull and skin are not derived from the same animal. They belong to two individuals representing the two monophyletic lineages within the Mountain gazelle clade, Gazella gazella. By tracing the taxonomic history of G. arabica and following the rules of the ICZN we are able to resolve the hypodigm of G. arabica.