The evolution of white fur and an animal sex scandal

Up north — in Canada and other places where snowy winters are reliable (and reliably heavy) — you find more animals whose fur comes in various shades of white. This is true even for species that are brown or black further south. The difference is obvious. But how does it happen? Carl Zimmer presents two possible paths to paleness — random mutation, and fortuitous cross-species mating. In related news: Golden retrievers are probably getting it on with Canadian coyotes.

6

  1. “… in Canada and other places where snowy winters are reliable …” Not as reliable as they were in the past. I should know, I live in the same area of BC, the Columbia Mountain region, as when I was a child in the early 70s. And there is definitely far less snow in winters now than there were then.

  2. My dog is either an eighth or a fourth coyote but looks more like a small German Shepherd. She’s a great dog and very smart. The two things I believe she “got” from the coyote side are excellent hunting skills of moles, squirrels, birds, and frogs and the howling at the moon (or emergency sirens).

Comments are closed.