Dark wolves came from dogs, according to reports in ScienceNOW and BBC News, 5 February 2009. Northern American wolves mostly have grey coats, but in some forested areas black coated wolves are quite common. In 2007 Greg Barsh, a geneticist at Stanford University, California, found a gene that causes dark coats in domestic dogs. The gene is called K-locus and dogs with dark coats have a gene that is three letters shorter than dogs with light coloured coats. Barsh and some colleagues tested a population of grey and black wolves living in Yellowstone National Park to see if the black wolves had the same gene variant. They found the gene in102 of 104 dark coated wolves, but not in any of the grey wolves. Some scientists suggest the dark colour would be an advantage in forests, but not in open tundra regions. The dark gene occurs in 19 percent of forest wolves but only 2 percent of tundra wolves. It has also been found in dark-coated coyotes. Because the dark gene is exactly the same in wolves and domestic dogs, Barsh’s team suggest that wolves gained the gene by cross breeding with domestic dogs that accompanied people who migrated across the Bering Strait. Barsh commented: “We usually think that dogs developed from wolves. The work shows an example where dogs gave something back to wolves.”


Editorial Comment: This evidence of interbreeding between domestic dogs, wolves and coyotes reminds us that these animals are all of one kind, despite the fact that dogs and coyotes have traditionally been regarded as separate species. The black colour hair coming from loss of 3 letters of a gene is also no help to evolution. We suggest the real implication is that like humans, the original default mode for colour is a brown with white, grey and black being the result of damaged genes. (Ref. canines, interbreeding, pigmentation)