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Posts Tagged ‘coydog’

Strange California canid

California coyote

I don’t know the original source of this photo, but it appears to be of a coyote or coydog in the West.  If this is a wild coyote or coydog, then this would be evidence of hybridization between dogs and coyotes outside the East. My initial source said it was in California.

If anyone knows, I would greatly appreciate it.

Update  (3 September 2016): This animal was photographed in Baja California, which is in Mexico.  There isn’t much written about coyote hybrids outside of the US and Canada, but it is assumed that they do happen in Mexico and Central America. Pre-Columbian civilizations in Mexico did cross coyotes. dogs, and Mexican wolves in their menageries. 

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Ken Ham is known for using the dog family to defend the biblical concept of kind. After all, domestic dogs vary so much but can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, which they can also do with wolves (their wild ancestor), coyotes, and golden jackals.

So all these different animals must represent the dog kind, right?

Well, very early in the debate from last night , Ham went for the dogs again, comparing the different species and breeds of the genus Canis to Darwin’s finches. Darwin’s finches are more less divergent in morphology than all these dogs are, so they both must represent the respective dog and finch “kind.”

The problem is that all the weird morphology that exists in dogs is really nothing more than the selection pressures that have occurred since domestication. Domestic dog skull vary more than all the other species in the order Carnivora. That means that domestic dogs have skulls that diverge more than the differences between those of house cats and walruses. It is now thought that tandem repeats may play a role why dog heads have been able to become so diverse so rapidly through selective breeding, which is really nothing more than a really weird aspect of the dog genome.  Domestic dogs actually don’t vary that much from each other, and they also don’t vary greatly from wolves either, which is why they still have to be classified as Canis lupus familiaris.

Ken Ham bathers on how all these Canis were interfertile and thus the same kind, but here’s a challenge I guess he didn’t think about.

These two animals look very similar, and I’m sure that Ken Ham would say they are the same “kind.”

canis latrans

black backed jackal

If you didn’t know any better, you’d say that these two animals were the same speces, and if you were a creationist, you’d definitely say they were the same “kind.”

But if all living things on the earth now are all derived from an ancestral and clearly interfertile ancestral pair on the ark, then why can’t these two animals interbreed?

Yes.

The animal in the top photo is a North American coyote. It actually can interbreed with domestic dogs and wolves, and it has been bred to the golden jackal, which is actually far more closely related to the wolf and coyote lineage than the other jackals.

Indeed, there are two jackals that are found only in Africa that are not interfertile with the rest of the genus Canis. These two are the black-backed and side-striped jackals, which are even more divergent from the rest of the genus Canis than African wild dogs and dholes are.

The animal below is a black-backed jackal, and in Southern and East Africa it is ecologically quite similar to the Western and Latin American populations of coyote.

Because black-backed and side-striped jackals are genetically that distinct from the rest of the “dog kind,” then Noah surely would have had to have brought along a separate jackal kind.

But wouldn’t an all-knowing creator just ask Noah to bring the dog kind and populate Africa with an animal deriving from that ancestral dog kind? Having to put another pair of dog-like creatures on that already crowded boat seems like an awful waste. Kennel space was pretty limited.

Why go at it with such a divergent animal?

Most people don’t realize that these two endemic African jackals are so different from the rest of the genus Canis. Most have heard that golden jackals cross with dogs, and there is an assumption that all of these animals are very closely related.

They aren’t.

But if you were to play on this kind game a bit more, you’d think that these two animals would interbreed, and that there would be no way to breed a cute little dog like a beagle to a coyote. A black-backed jackal would be a much more logical mate, right?

beagle

 

But there have been several studies that have crossed laboratory strain beagles with coyotes (like this one: coyote beagle).

coyote beagle mated pair

 

The photo above is the male coyote protecting his beagle mate.

Here are their descendants:

beagle coydogs

Beagles and coyotes would clearly be part of the same kind, but coyotes and black-backed jackals would not.

But you’d never be able to guess that solely by looking at the animals.

And this is where the entire concept of “kinds” falls apart.

We have many different and often nasty debates about the taxonomy and classification of species, but we have these debates because we have some idea of what a species is.

The same cannot be used for the term “kind.”

A kind is really whatever one thinks it should be. It’s an ad hoc definition, one that is squishy and malleable, which means that it is perfect for people who like to misrepresent facts to twist around however they would like.

It’s precisely the sort of thing creationists like to use to bamboozle the science-illiterate public.

 

 

 

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This is an Irish-marked melanistic coyote.

The melanism trait originated in domestic dogs and was transmitted to wolves and coyotes through crossbreeding.

The same goes with Irish markings.

I posted a photo of a normal gray coyote with Irish markings last year.

This is the first black one I’ve heard of.

Coyotes with dog colorations are not unheard of.

Dogs and coyotes can produce fertile offspring when they cross, and coyotes now live in a world where there are lots of dogs.

Now, coyotes apparently have very strict monogamy, even in urban settings.

And this is probably what keeps coyotes from becoming totally inundated with dog genes.

But there is enough of a gene flow between dogs and coyotes to introduce these novel colorations.

It’s possible that some of these colors are popping up as novel mutations in coyotes, but they seem to be found only in populations that are known to hybridize with domestic dogs or wolves. In populations where the coyotes are generally pure, their color doesn’t vary that much at all.

So it seems more likely that dog genes are the reason for all these strange coyotes.

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Brindle coyotes

You have to look closely, but you can see the brindling on the legs.

My guess is that this color has also been introduced through cross-breeding with those darn domestic dogs.

Lots of free love in the genus Canis.

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This is a coyote, but it obviously has a dog somewhere in its ancestry.

We have a name for these particular white markings in domestic dogs. It is called Irish spotting or Irish markings.

No wild canid has this coloration. The existence of these markings is indicative of domestic dog genes within a wild population.

This coyote got likely its white markings from a dog ancestor that bred with a female coyote. The hybrid was fertile and had enough coyote characteristics to survive in the wild and mate with another coyote.  The dog ancestor is likely several generations away, for this animal really looks very much like a coyote, just with unusual markings.

These particular white markings are very hard to get rid of in domestic dogs, and it is likely that they are very hard to lose within coyote populations once they are introduced into the gene pool.

And you still doubt the studies about the black wolves getting their coloration from the same source?

If you can get Irish markings from dogs, you can get also get black color from them.

It’s really that simple.

 

 

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(Source for image)

White-tipped tails are not uncommon in coyotes, and they may be endemic to the species. However, they could have received the white tips from cross-breeding with dogs. Other than coyotes, only the only wild dogs with white-tipped tails are red foxes and side striped jackals, both of which always have this feature.

The black coloration also has its roots in dogs, either directly inherited from crossbreeding with dogs and with interbreeding with wolves that inherited that gene from dogs.

Coyotes with black coloration are not all that rare, but as far as I know, they have been studied very little.

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(Source for information)

This animal obviously got its coloration from a dog ancestor, but it appears to be a very high content coydog– perhaps so high that we might as well call it a coyote.

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