Are dog breeds actually distinct species?

28 05 2009

Good tidings and well-wishes!

Steve Mirsky over at the Scientific American website has made the argument that were we to only know various dog breeds from fossil remains, we’d attribute them to different species. Furthermore, though a one-pound Chihuahua could technically mate with an English Mastiff that weighs more than I do, this couldn’t happen without artificial intervention and would never occur in the wild. Thus, he contends, they should be considered two separate species. If he’s correct in this regard, it wouldn be far from the only known instance of observed speciation

May the fossil record and the rest of the natural world continue to enchant us all!

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One response

28 05 2009
Zach Miller

Hmmm…it’s something I’ve definately wondered about. I suppose it gets back to the endless question of what really separates species. Sure, those two flies can produce fertile offspring, but they’d never actually breed in the wild, so behavioral differences are what separate them.

Makes me wonder how many animals in the wild could reproduce successfully. I’d bet a LOT.

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