Wild Dog

Scientists in Brazil have identified an unusual canine brought to a veterinary clinic as being the hybrid offspring of a dog and a pampas fox.  The animal, a female, was the size and build of a medium size dog but had fox-like facial features and ears and thick black-brown fur. 

A study of its chromosomes found it has 76 chromosomes, with two X chromosomes that had different structures.  A dog has 78 chromosomes and a pampas fox has 74.  The hybrid’s mitochondrial DNA, which is passed from mother to offspring, confirmed its mother was a pampas fox.  The animal has since died so there is no way of knowing whether it could have fertile offspring. 

The research team commented in their summary: “Previous studies have documented hybridization between wild canids and domestic dogs in North America and Europe. However, there have been no reports of such hybridization in South America until now.”

References: Science Alert 27 September 2023; Animals 3 August 2023 doi:10.3390/ani13152505

Editorial Comment:  As this animal’s chromosome number does not match a pampas fox or a dog it wouldn’t be able to have fertile offspring from mating with either of these as any combination would produce an odd number of chromosomes.  Chromosomes come in pairs, so a full set is an even number.  When living things reproduce by sexual reproduction the chromosome pairs are split up and each parent contributes half a set of chromosomes to the offspring.  In this case the mother fox contributed 37 Chromosomes and the father dog 39, giving a total of 76 for the hybrid offspring.  For the hybrid to produce sex cells the chromosomes will be split up into half sets of 38 chromosomes.  This will not work for recombining with a dog or pampas fox sex cells as either combination will produce an odd number. However, if there are other hybrids from the same combination of dog and pampas fox they may be able reproduce with each other as they would both have the same even number.

The comment about wild and domestic canids is a reminder that wild dogs and domestic dogs are known to interbreed and produce fertile offspring.  This shows that domestic dogs and wild canines are all part of one canine kind.  In Australia dingoes (wild dogs) regularly mate with farm dogs and produce fertile offspring. In North America hybrids between domestic dogs and coyotes or wolves are also well known.

Creation Research News 11 October 2023

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