There are already more than a million of them: people have created a new predator that is taking over the northeast of the USA
Categories: AnimalsBy Pictolic https://pictolic.com/en/article/there-are-already-more-than-a-million-of-them-people-have-created-a-new-predator-that-is-taking-over-the-northeast-of-the-usa
It's not the first time people have changed nature. Humanity has not yet created the Frankenstein monster, but it is busy transforming the natural world. One of the latest examples is the creation of the coywolf, a hybrid of a coyote and a wolf, which is also known as the Eastern coyote. According to an article in The Economist, their population seems to have exceeded a million individuals.
These animals have a completely new set of genes: about a quarter — wolf DNA, two—thirds - coyote DNA and the rest — the DNA of domesticated dogs, mainly German Shepherds and Doberman Pinscher.
Human activity most likely played a role in the creation of the species. After people reduced the wolf population due to hunting, the lack of free partners forced these gray predators to look for companions among coyotes and dogs.
Scientists believe that in North America, this mixing began in the southern part of the province of Ontario about a century or two ago.
The success of the coywolves amazes scientists, because the habitat of these animals has covered the entire northeast of the United States, including urban areas, and continues to expand in a southeasterly direction. And this is surprising, since purebred coyotes have not managed to gain a foothold east of the prairies, and wolves have been exterminated in the eastern forests for quite a long time. But the animals that appeared as a result of DNA unification are able to easily spread over vast territories.
Here is a coyote whose weight does not exceed 32 kilograms. He easily settles in cities.
And this is a wolf. Wolves tend to be larger, weighing about 45 kilograms, and they prefer wilder habitats.
Although the gray wolf and the coyote are the closest relatives, these two animal species were separated by evolution from 1 to 2 million years ago.
Usually hybrids — even between two closely related species — do not survive, but coywolves seem to be an exception. At the same time, they have several advantages over their parent species: coywolves are 40% larger than coyotes, they have powerful wolf mouths, they have inherited the social character of the wolf, which allows them to hunt in a pack. One coywolf can get a small deer, and a pack can get an adult moose.
These animals are much better adapted to a changing world than one might think, and their spread is faster and more widespread than previously thought. The genetic combination of the two animals is particularly well suited for the northern habitat: wolf genes allow you to hunt large prey, while coyote genes allow you to adapt to cities and other settlements.
Another reason for the successful spread of these animals may be their more extensive diet. After all, coywolves eat pumpkins, watermelons, other gardening products and even food waste. They also eat rodents and other small mammals.
To better study this hybrid, scientists decided to mate female coyotes with male gray wolves. The result should have been not quite a wild coywolf, but a very close hybrid. And although two pregnancies did not lead to the appearance of live offspring, six live puppies were born in another litter.
Here is the result.
Mixing the two species even led to the creation of a hybrid howl of a coywolf, combining the sounds made by a wolf and a coyote. You can hear this howl in a small video shot with a camera trap.
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