For better or worse (and lets face it, usually for worse) mankind’s presence has a powerful effect on the natural world. Usually this leads to extinctions, deforesting, and pollution. Occasionally, we try to fix our mistakes with conservation efforts and habitat recovery. But perhaps the strangest and rarest influence we exert over the natural world is when we try our hand at design. Previously I’ve written about the successful domesticating of feral Siberian foxes. Those experiments resulted in the birth of the adorable and playful puppy-like runts that were the first of their kind. Today I’m going to talk about a project that’s in someways similar, but entirely weirder and more invasive. Have you ever heard of a Coywolf?
Coywolves are a hybrid of wolf and coyote. It’s believed that some hybrid combinations have only existed for about 100 years. Supposedly, deforestation, hunting, and pollution reduced the populations of wolves so severally that they began mating with coyotes to survive. The resulting offspring were a mix of the two parent species, and can breed with either one (or ever domesticated dogs). In time they may even become their own species, separate from both parent species.
In 2013 the National Wildlife Research Center Predator Research Facility in Logan, Utah conducted the first successful hybridization of the northwestern gray wolf crossed with pure western coyote. This experiment used artificial insemination techniques and resulted in a new animal that had never before existed. It’s like something out of science fiction.
For more on the Coywolf check out this masterful documentary.