Sunday, March 29, 2009

Black Wolves and Dog DNA

Since I'm on the subject of dog DNA these days, I took particular interest in an article in this month's Smithsonian magazine. In the "Wild Things: Life As We Know It" section there's a small, but interesting little blurb about black wolves. Most wolves have grayish coats. A few are white. But, says the article, the only place where black wolves can be found is North America. Intrigued by this unusual coat color, researchers at Stanford University and elsewhere compared wolf DNA with DNA of coyotes and dogs.

"The black coat gene, the researchers found, appears to have come from dogs. Some North American wolves likely interbred with domesticated dogs, now extinct, that accompanied people who crossed the Bering Strait from Asia more than 10,000 years ago," the article states.

We all know there's wolf ancestry in every dog...but it's kind of interesting to see that a bit of ancient dog found its way back into the wolf's DNA as well. The result is stunningly beautiful and mysterious.

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