Social Question

Dutchess_III's avatar

Can you help me untangle this question about species?

Asked by Dutchess_III (41570points) 1 month ago

Only animals of the same species can produce viable offspring, right? I got to searching the scientific classification of wolves and coyotes because they have been interbreeding and creating a whole new sub species.

Wolves:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: C. lupus

Coyotes:
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: C. latrans

The only place on that chart where they differ IS in the species.
So is it the genus (Canis in this case) that is the key for interbreeding, and not the species?

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

13 Answers

stanleybmanly's avatar

Yes. Things get tricky the closer you are to the branching off of species, and there are experts who would actually prefer that coyotes be regarded as a “breed”.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And wolves would be a different breed? And dogs would be hundreds of different breeds of dogs.

stanleybmanly's avatar

But I think the wolves came first. The other canines are their descendants

Dutchess_III's avatar

Interesting. I’ll go look further. Thanks.

Zaku's avatar

Species etc are taxonomical categories.

What can breed with what is based on the actual situation, not the categories zoologists have arranged them into, though it tends to align that way because of the types of reasons the zoologists tend to choose to organize their taxonomies.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Could you be more specific?

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think @Zaku is saying that taxonomists are not always on the money in their classifications. But the one thing on which everyone agrees is that if 2 supposed species are interbreeding, the mistake is in the classification of one of them. In other words, it’s the taxonomists who made the mistake, not nature.

Zaku's avatar

Yes, species is a concept from a categorization system which tries to organize creatures that way. That concept may relate mostly very accurately to actual things in the nature of creatures, but it’s not a first-order real thing.

And the fact that creatures mutate and evolve belies the idea that species stay in neat imaginary boxes.

And also, see genetic hybrids – which is a counter-example that no, the first question in the question description (i.e. ”Only animals of the same species can produce viable offspring, right?” is not true.

Members of a species, correctly defined, by definition should be (in many if not all cases) able to produce viable offspring, but that doesn’t mean only animals of the same species can.

Caravanfan's avatar

That’s a question for Glen on FB.

Dutchess_III's avatar

^ Or Cris. Just wanted to give everyone something to talk about here.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Thanks @stanleybmanly. Very interesting.

Brian1946's avatar

@Dutchess_III

I miss crisw. She was a brilliant advocate for most non-human organisms.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I have her on Facebook.

Answer this question

Login

or

Join

to answer.
Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
or
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther