quagga (kwăgˈə) [key], extinct type of zebra. It formerly inhabited open plains in S Africa, where its range overlapped that of the common zebra ( Equus burchelli ). 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. Recent analyses of DNA (genetic material) from a museum specimen indicate that the quagga is almost certainly a variant of the common zebra rather than a separate species ( E. quagga ) as was once believed. Quaggas are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Perissodactyla, family Equidae.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

See more Encyclopedia articles on: Vertebrate Zoology