quagga kwăg´ə [key], extinct type of zebra . It formerly inhabited open plains in S Africa, where its range overlapped that of the plains zebra, or common zebra ( Equus quagga, formerly E. burchellii ). Its coat was sandy brown and its legs and tail whitish; only its head, neck, and shoulders were dark-striped. Living in herds and competing with domestic sheep for grass, quaggas were exterminated in the 19th cent.; the last died in 1883 in the Amsterdam Zoo. Analyses of DNA (genetic material) from a museum specimen indicate that the quagga is almost certainly a variant of the plains zebra rather than a separate species as was once believed. The South African Quagga Project is attempting to selectively breed plains zebras to recreate a zebra with quagga characteristics. Quaggas are classified in the phylum Chordata , subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Perissodactyla, family Equidae.
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