Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Interspecies mating and animal classification

  1. Aug 10, 2013 #1
    I just read about how coyotes and dogs can interbreed, and their offspring can also breed. I thought one of the classifications of species was that two different species could either not breed together, or their offspring would be infertile. Dogs are of the species canis lupus, and coyotes are of the species canis latrans; different species, yet they're able to create fertile offspring. So was I misinformed about the distinction between different species? Thanks.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2013 #2


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    They both belong to the species or genus Canis, the lupus/latrans are specific names. But I must say I'm not a true biologist, I never studied this subject. That being said, within Canis there are some examples of classes that cannot interbreed, it depends on the chromosomal architecture.
  4. Aug 10, 2013 #3


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Here, let me google that for you:


    Just as Pluto was recently demoted, I'm sure "species" will one day be redefined, and ixnay this current problem.

    Ha ha! Pluto.........
    Sometimes, humour, just happens. :smile:
  5. Aug 11, 2013 #4

    jim mcnamara

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) has driven geneticists nuts for years.


    Is one study that shows what is now termed a subgenome exists for varying populations and individuals within a population of switchgrass. Meaning they interbreed. And you can have extant populations that are a polyploid mishmash.

    The problem is that these plants appear to be one species, but genetically they are a biologists nightmare (or challenge). Just because choromsome numbers vary does not mean members of a population are not really a single species in the sense the OP posted. At least for some plants.

    IMO this means that what we use to define a species is not a perfect match for what sometimes happens.

    Plus the a lot of species in genus Canis appear to play the "switchgrass game": hybrids are fertile


    Also note: domestic dogs are new, circa 33000 years max, and are considered subsepecies of Canis lupus, the gray wolf. They have not been on "their own" genetically all that long and have not evolved isolation - probably because of human intervention.


    This whole area is "fuzzy" enough to say - "it is still an arf-ful mess". (sorry)
  6. Aug 24, 2013 #5
    Environmental Change forces Cross-species coupling


    The following link is to list of Arctic Mammals with the potential for hybridization
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook