Meet the ‘coywolf’, a coyote-wolf hybrid that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Coywolf populations are soaring in eastern North America, with an estimated millions now in existence – making it one of the great success stories of interspecies breeding.
According to The Independent the new animal has emerged over the last century, and is better than both its predecessors.
It’s double the size of a regular coyote, weighing in at around 25kg, has bigger jaws and muscles and is equally adept at hunting in both forests or open terrain.
With only 25 per cent wolf DNA coyote is the dominant species, and it also has a tenth dog in it – this means it gets along with people better than a coyote or a wolf, and they’re increasingly being seen in urban areas.
Dr Roland Kays of North Carolina State University told The Economist coywolf numbers are in the millions – apparently the amazing thing about the new animal is not that it came into existence, but that it has multiplied so rapidly. They can go nearly anywhere, and have been expanding their territory.
And they’re smart, coywolfs have learned to look both ways before they cross the road. Dr Kays says this is an incredible evolutionary advancement, calling it an “amazing contemporary evolution story that’s happening right underneath our nose”.
But there’s debate about whether it should be classed as its own species. It’s been said there’s enough genetic divergence to do so, but a general rule for species is they don’t breed with outsiders, and the coywolf continues to mate with both dogs and wolves.
I guess you can’t teach a new dog-hybrid new tricks.