At least three readers have pointed me to articles, one in The Economistand the other in Raw Story, arguing that a new species of canid, the “coywolf” (also called a “wolfote”) is emerging before our eyes as wolves (Canis lupus), domestic dogs, and coyotes (Canis latrans) all hybridize to form a distinct entity.
Such “hybrid speciation” is indeed possible, and has been seen several times in animals and many times in plants. (Wikipedia gives a good summary of the facts, and a longer treatment appears in Chapter 9 of Speciation, the book I wrote with Allen Orr. There’s also a short but useful paper by Richard Abbott and Loren Rieseberg, free online, here.)
One way is “diploid (or “homoploid”) hybrid speciation,” which is what’s supposed to be happening in the coyowolf. In that case, two plants or animals hybridize, and the hybrid undergoes genetic…
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