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Canid Biodiversity: "DNA Study Reveals the One and Only Wolf Species in North America"
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We often hear that science has proved that race does not exist. But I alway ask, Don’t the same arguments about blurry boundaries and the like also apply to the proposition that species does not exist? Then I cite confusing cases regarding species that have big money implications under the Endangered Species Act. Are dogs, coyotes, and wolves one species or separate species? What about red wolves?

In the NYT, Carl Zimmer brings us up to date on the latest findings regarding my go-to example:

DNA Study Reveals the One and Only Wolf Species in North America
Carl Zimmer
MATTER JULY 27, 2016

The first large study of North American wolf genomes has found that there is only one species on the continent: the gray wolf. Two other purported species, the Eastern wolf and the red wolf, are mixes of gray wolf and coyote DNA, the scientists behind the study concluded.

The finding, announced Wednesday, highlights the shortcomings of laws intended to protect endangered species, as such laws lag far behind scientific research into the evolution of species.

The gray wolf and red wolf were listed as endangered in the lower 48 states under the Endangered Species Act in the 1970s and remain protected today, to the periodic consternation of ranchers and agricultural interests.

In 2013, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service recognized the Eastern wolf as a separate species, which led officials to recommend delisting the gray wolf. Conservationists won a lawsuit that forced the agency to abandon the plan.

The new finding sharpens a scientific question at the heart of that debate: How should the Endangered Species Act address threatened animals that are hybrids? …

Those efforts were possible because of the Endangered Species Act, established in 1973. The law led to a recovery program for a species known as the red wolf, or Canis rufus, believed to have originally lived in the Southeast. The last red wolves were removed from the wild in 1980, and captive-bred animals were released into the wild beginning in 1987.

The gray wolf, or Canis lupus, once ranged from the Rockies to New England. In 1978, the Fish and Wildlife Service declared it to be threatened in the lower 48 states.

In 2000, some scientists began to argue that the eastern population of gray wolves was in fact a separate species, which they called Canis lycaon. The Fish and Wildlife Service recognized that species in 2013, and officials argued that the gray wolf, now deemed to be limited to the western United States, was doing well enough to be taken off the list.

The new analysis, published in the journal Science Advances, paints a profoundly different portrait of the American wolf.

Bridgett M. vonHoldt of Princeton University and her colleagues sequenced the genomes of 12 gray wolves, six Eastern wolves, three red wolves and three coyotes, as well as the genomes of dogs and wolves from Asia.

Dr. vonHoldt and her colleagues found no evidence that red wolves or Eastern wolves belonged to distinct lineages of their own. Instead, they seem to be populations of gray wolves, sharing many of the same genes.

What really sets Eastern wolves and red wolves apart, the researchers found, is a large amount of coyote DNA in their genomes.

The new study revealed that coyotes and North American wolves shared a remarkably recent common ancestor. Scientists had previously estimated their ancestor lived a million years ago, but the new study put the figure at just 50,000 years ago.

“I could not have put money on it being so recent,” Dr. vonHoldt said.

That ancestor gave rise to two species — the predecessor of today’s gray wolves and that of today’s coyotes — somewhere in Eurasia. Dr. vonHoldt said that the two species then migrated into North America.

… Some wolf experts were startled by the finding and said it would require further support.

Linda Y. Rutledge, an expert on Eastern wolves, questioned whether the new study was sufficient to reject them as a separate species. …

Yet the Endangered Species Act offers no guidance about what to do with hybrid animals.

I don’t have strong opinions on how the Endangered Species Act should be applied. There usually are good arguments for both splitting and lumping.

I just think that being aware of the complexities involving species would make us more hesitant to buy into the conventional wisdom cliches about race not existing.

 
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  1. Social “science” must now prove that identity doesn’t exist. Identity is a pathological construct, evidence of mental illness.

  2. Lot says:

    Linda Y. Rutledge, an expert on Eastern wolves, questioned whether the new study was sufficient to reject them as a separate species.

    That’s just what an “expert on Eastern wolves” would say, isn’t it? She don’t need no fancy “DNA analysis,” she just knows they are different species.

    I wonder how much she makes per hour as an expert witness in “environmentalist” NIMBY lawsuits to stop development? $350 an hour? more? There could not be too many other “Eastern wolf experts” out there.

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    I had lunch with the real estate developer of the golf course that is now Trump National Los Angeles (his venture went bankrupt after the 18th hole fell off the cliff toward Hawaii). Before that disaster, his big problem was the California Gnatcatcher bird. Was it an endangered species, as the world's only California Gnatcatcher expert said, or was it just a race of the common Baja Gnatcatcher? Lots of California developers were fighting the EPA in court, arguing that it wasn't separate species, but this developer decided to make peace with the expert.

    So, he hired the Professor of Gnatcatcherology to walk his property with golf course architect Pete Dye. Together they came up with a plan to leave strips of the Gnatcatcher's favorite kind of sagebrush between each fairway. So the golf course got approved by the EPA. When I played it, I saw lots of Gnatcatchers in the sage brush, but I also lost about a dozen golf balls that day because any shot that strayed much off the fairway was engulfed by skin-ripping sage brush.

    When Trump bought the golf course from the man I had lunch with, he played it up as a great tournament site. But I could have told him that the sagebrush was going to cause major problems for spectators. Sure enough, when Trump sponsored an LPGA event at Trump National Los Angeles as a precursor to a PGA event and the U.S. Open, it proved a dud of a tournament site because of all the sagebrush.

    Eventually, the professor did a DNA study and changed his mind: the California Gnatcatcher wasn't a separate species.
    , @Miss Laura
    Also in Zimmer's article: "Despite her concerns, Dr. Rutledge joined Dr. vonHoldt’s lab as a research associate last year to participate in a new study on wolves, called the Canine Ancestry Project." Good scientists try to avoid bias.
    , @King George III
    The definition of "species" is fairly arbitrary. Evolution is an unbroken gradient of differentiation, and so if intermediate organisms exist "between" Specie A and Specie B, there is often no clear delineation.

    "Subspecies" are often applied to animals and plants the same way that "race" is applied to humans.

    Often, full-blown species can intermix. Humans and Neanderthals did, separated by ~400,000ish years at that time. Clearly, wolves and coyotes did; God knows how long the separation was. And then of course you have ring species, which I encourage you to look up on Wikipedia.

    People often claim that the "specie" is defined by that organism which can no longer breed with other species, but this is patently untrue. Brown bears and polar bears can interbreed, but don't due to habitats that very rarely intersect. Most of the time, the primary distinction between two species of deer, for instance, is their native habitat.

    And of course the scientists have divied up animals like rabbits or birds into so many different species that sometimes it is almost impossible to tell them apart from sight alone.

    Interestingly, none of this seems to apply to humans.
  3. In conjunction with the wolf, the North American Elk continues its march towards diseased farm animal. Species are inseparable from environment, a fact that cannot be gotten around.

  4. There are many thousands of hybrids out there, and there is even good reason to think that our ancestors broke off from other hominids due to hybridization. It’s a mess, because many “species” can interbreed, but our Gov is certain to ignore the science as long as possible.

  5. If wolves and coyotes can produce “hybrid” offspring, shouldn’t they be looked at as races (instead of specieses)?

    • Replies: @Steve Sailer
    And dogs too.

    On the other hand, dogs, wolves, and coyotes seem pretty different even though they can interbreed.

    We know to carve nature at the joints: dogs, wolves, and coyotes are, on the whole, kind of different but they are more similar than dogs and cats. But we don't know a priori whether to split or lump.

    A lot of the pseudo-intellectual claims that Race Does Not Exist are based on the same kind of ideas.

  6. @Lot

    Linda Y. Rutledge, an expert on Eastern wolves, questioned whether the new study was sufficient to reject them as a separate species.
     
    That's just what an "expert on Eastern wolves" would say, isn't it? She don't need no fancy "DNA analysis," she just knows they are different species.

    I wonder how much she makes per hour as an expert witness in "environmentalist" NIMBY lawsuits to stop development? $350 an hour? more? There could not be too many other "Eastern wolf experts" out there.

    I had lunch with the real estate developer of the golf course that is now Trump National Los Angeles (his venture went bankrupt after the 18th hole fell off the cliff toward Hawaii). Before that disaster, his big problem was the California Gnatcatcher bird. Was it an endangered species, as the world’s only California Gnatcatcher expert said, or was it just a race of the common Baja Gnatcatcher? Lots of California developers were fighting the EPA in court, arguing that it wasn’t separate species, but this developer decided to make peace with the expert.

    So, he hired the Professor of Gnatcatcherology to walk his property with golf course architect Pete Dye. Together they came up with a plan to leave strips of the Gnatcatcher’s favorite kind of sagebrush between each fairway. So the golf course got approved by the EPA. When I played it, I saw lots of Gnatcatchers in the sage brush, but I also lost about a dozen golf balls that day because any shot that strayed much off the fairway was engulfed by skin-ripping sage brush.

    When Trump bought the golf course from the man I had lunch with, he played it up as a great tournament site. But I could have told him that the sagebrush was going to cause major problems for spectators. Sure enough, when Trump sponsored an LPGA event at Trump National Los Angeles as a precursor to a PGA event and the U.S. Open, it proved a dud of a tournament site because of all the sagebrush.

    Eventually, the professor did a DNA study and changed his mind: the California Gnatcatcher wasn’t a separate species.

  7. @Stogumber
    If wolves and coyotes can produce "hybrid" offspring, shouldn't they be looked at as races (instead of specieses)?

    And dogs too.

    On the other hand, dogs, wolves, and coyotes seem pretty different even though they can interbreed.

    We know to carve nature at the joints: dogs, wolves, and coyotes are, on the whole, kind of different but they are more similar than dogs and cats. But we don’t know a priori whether to split or lump.

    A lot of the pseudo-intellectual claims that Race Does Not Exist are based on the same kind of ideas.

    • Replies: @CraigAustin
    I read recently that they have found the coyodog hybrid to be largely a myth, apparently they are a Red Wolf hybrid. In controlled conditions coyote / domestic dog pairing resulted in unhealthy and often neglected offspring . I live in southern Ontario and both are present on my property, I have game cameras and have witnessed Red Wolves vigorously hunting Coyotes and Foxes. Finding fresh kills is never pretty, but finding a freshly "wolf killed" coyote is a new level of brutal, they tear them to pieces, not for food, it really looks like anger is involved. Coyotes tend to be loners, and well under 40 lbs, the Red Wolves are pack animals, and look like closer to 80-90lbs. I don't have the link handy but I believe it was done through Guelph University.
    , @Sean
    Viability is the key. If the hybrids are less viable then they are classifiable as different species. Wolves kill coyotes, but people kill wolves, so the hybrids were more viable.
    , @Rapparee

    "A lot of the pseudo-intellectual claims that Race Does Not Exist are based on the same kind of ideas."
     
    Whenever I read a "Race Does Not Exist" article by a scientist, the author usually spends less time arguing scientific evidence than getting stymied by age-old questions about the Problem of Universals. Often, his training in philosophy is so superficial (or nonexistent) that he doesn't realize he's simply re-treading a discussion from Plato and Aristotle, rather than making any relevant point about modern biology.

    Indeed, I have a vague hunch that our perpetual confusion about race & species may be somehow related to intellectuals' abandonment of Aristotelian Realism, though I haven't brought this idea to any of my professional philosopher friends for vetting.
  8. In application, it’s all about bringing the hicks to heel.

    Recent scientific work has demonstrated that competition from a more fit kind of owl, NOT logging, was decimating the spotted owls in Oregon. Has there been a deafening sound of chainsaws and sawmills being restarted over one of the greatest natural areas in which to grow hardwood trees in the world? Surely you jest. No, no, the federal gov’t is paying for the barred owl to be shot. Yes, seriously. Everyone in Oregon not working for Nike or hipstering in Portland must be mired in poverty, the hicks ….

    Seriously, what next? Federally-funded efforts to re-introduce rattus rattus, since it was displaced by alien Norwegian rats???

  9. Species? Sub-species? Why not use the new catch-all, ESU or Environmentally Significant Unit.

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/sea-wolves/range-map

    http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2015/10/sea-wolves/mcgrath-text

    “Gray wolves have adapted to the diverse ecosystem of British Columbia’s Coast Mountains since the end of the last ice age. In the temperate rain forests’ outer shores live two types of coastal wolves that researchers suggest diverged from a common gray wolf ancestor into what’s called an evolutionarily significant unit, or ESU, worthy of conservation.

    Going in, Darimont and Paquet had assumed that the coastal wolves on the islands were simply normal wolves that moved between islands and the mainland, pushing on whenever they’d polished off the deer. Instead the data showed that wolves can spend their whole lives on outer islands that have no salmon runs and few or even no deer. These wolves are more likely to mate with other islanders, not with salmon-eaters. And they’re beachcombers. They chew barnacles. Scarf up the gluey roe that herring lay on kelp. Feast on whales that wash up dead. Swim out into the ocean and clamber nimbly up onto rocks to pounce on basking seals. “As much as 90 percent of these wolves’ diet can come directly from the sea,” Darimont says.

    Most extraordinary is the wolves’ swimming prowess. They often swim across miles of ocean between islands. In 1996 wolves showed up on Dundas Islands for the first time in the Tsimshian people’s long collective memory—eight miles from the nearest land.”

  10. eastern coyotes are a mix of coyote ,wolf ,dog ,a veritable man-bear-pig we need algore to look into this

  11. @Lot

    Linda Y. Rutledge, an expert on Eastern wolves, questioned whether the new study was sufficient to reject them as a separate species.
     
    That's just what an "expert on Eastern wolves" would say, isn't it? She don't need no fancy "DNA analysis," she just knows they are different species.

    I wonder how much she makes per hour as an expert witness in "environmentalist" NIMBY lawsuits to stop development? $350 an hour? more? There could not be too many other "Eastern wolf experts" out there.

    Also in Zimmer’s article: “Despite her concerns, Dr. Rutledge joined Dr. vonHoldt’s lab as a research associate last year to participate in a new study on wolves, called the Canine Ancestry Project.” Good scientists try to avoid bias.

  12. Same deal with the “American Red Knot,” which is causing disruption of the conch industry on the east coast.

  13. Isn’t it refreshing to hear that genetics matter? In “social sciences ” the discussion would be about “self identification ” , the coyote who “identifies ” as a wolf or a wolf that is gender fluid, and therefore needs special protection.

  14. @Steve Sailer
    And dogs too.

    On the other hand, dogs, wolves, and coyotes seem pretty different even though they can interbreed.

    We know to carve nature at the joints: dogs, wolves, and coyotes are, on the whole, kind of different but they are more similar than dogs and cats. But we don't know a priori whether to split or lump.

    A lot of the pseudo-intellectual claims that Race Does Not Exist are based on the same kind of ideas.

    I read recently that they have found the coyodog hybrid to be largely a myth, apparently they are a Red Wolf hybrid. In controlled conditions coyote / domestic dog pairing resulted in unhealthy and often neglected offspring . I live in southern Ontario and both are present on my property, I have game cameras and have witnessed Red Wolves vigorously hunting Coyotes and Foxes. Finding fresh kills is never pretty, but finding a freshly “wolf killed” coyote is a new level of brutal, they tear them to pieces, not for food, it really looks like anger is involved. Coyotes tend to be loners, and well under 40 lbs, the Red Wolves are pack animals, and look like closer to 80-90lbs. I don’t have the link handy but I believe it was done through Guelph University.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
    Wow. It sounds like Red Wolves are really racist.
    , @fnn
    Multiple studies from the last few years confirm coyote-wolf-dog hybridization:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coywolf
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coydog
    , @fnn
    Then there was the locally famous wild wolf in Alaska who liked to play withe local dogs assembled at Juneau’s Mendenhall Glacier:
    https://retrieverman.net/tag/romeo-the-wolf/


    This guy thinks that persecution by humans turned Lower 48 wolves psychotic:
    https://retrieverman.net/2009/02/09/proof-the-modern-wolves-a-bit-psychotic/

    Cannibalism is very rare in dogs. In fact, the old saying “dog eat dog” comes from the fact that it has to be very bad before a dog will eat another dog. When my grandpa was trapping foxes, he told me that dogs wouldn’t even eat the carcasses of the skinned red and gray foxes. Dogs really have some sort of issues about eating each other.

    Wolves don’t seem to have that problem.

    I think that this may have something to do with our centuries long persecution of the wolf, which has left us only with rather psychotic, low serotonin animals in the wolf population. We have selected for this behavior, not nature.

    If wolves had always had this behavior, then we would’ve never been able to domestic dogs, even if we accept that dogs descend from wolves that scavenged off of people. Modern wolves that scavenge off of people are quite dangerous. In fact, the only well-documented fatality that seems to come from wolves in North America is from habituated “garbage wolves.” I doubt that ancient humans would’ve put up with aggressive garbage wolves near their settlements. In fact, if they had possessed this temperament from the beginning, I think that wolves probably would have never been allowed near camps at all. In modern wolves, when they lose their fear of people, they don’t become dogs. They become dangerous.

    ...The one I see that is much more of a problem relationship between wolves and people is that wolves almost always kill dogs that they encounter. Perhaps wolves were less likely to do so in the past, because there are accounts of wolves and dogs sharing bison carcasses in the Old West. Lewis and Clark’s Newfoundland, “Seaman,” wandered freely through wolf country (where there were lots and lots of wolves), and not once was he attacked. This tells me that something has changed in wolves, and we had better adjust our thinking about this animal if it is ever to continue to exist.

    I think killing them off in the early days of settlement in this country was a major mistake. We should have imported livestock guardian animals, including dogs, to protect our flocks. But that’s not the custom of our first settlers, who really didn’t have big livestock guardian dogs to do the work. Plus, there was a deep fear of wolves. I think that the various methods we used to kill the wolf-poisoning, hounding, shooting, clubbing, knifing, etc– had a profound effect upon wolf evolution. They turned an animal that was easily domesticated, even by people with very little technology, into an animal that is at best almost paranoid in its fear of people and at its worst dangerous to humans, livestock, and dogs.
     
  15. @Lot

    Linda Y. Rutledge, an expert on Eastern wolves, questioned whether the new study was sufficient to reject them as a separate species.
     
    That's just what an "expert on Eastern wolves" would say, isn't it? She don't need no fancy "DNA analysis," she just knows they are different species.

    I wonder how much she makes per hour as an expert witness in "environmentalist" NIMBY lawsuits to stop development? $350 an hour? more? There could not be too many other "Eastern wolf experts" out there.

    The definition of “species” is fairly arbitrary. Evolution is an unbroken gradient of differentiation, and so if intermediate organisms exist “between” Specie A and Specie B, there is often no clear delineation.

    “Subspecies” are often applied to animals and plants the same way that “race” is applied to humans.

    Often, full-blown species can intermix. Humans and Neanderthals did, separated by ~400,000ish years at that time. Clearly, wolves and coyotes did; God knows how long the separation was. And then of course you have ring species, which I encourage you to look up on Wikipedia.

    People often claim that the “specie” is defined by that organism which can no longer breed with other species, but this is patently untrue. Brown bears and polar bears can interbreed, but don’t due to habitats that very rarely intersect. Most of the time, the primary distinction between two species of deer, for instance, is their native habitat.

    And of course the scientists have divied up animals like rabbits or birds into so many different species that sometimes it is almost impossible to tell them apart from sight alone.

    Interestingly, none of this seems to apply to humans.

  16. I would have to disagree that anything—one way or the other—is “proved” by DNA studies. Genetics is to biology exactly what Climate Change is to meteorology. Not only is it untenable garbage science to begin with, it is heavily politicized garbage science as interpreted by mediocre intellects.

    I predict that the whole concept of biomolecular genetics will undergo a complete overhaul in the decades ahead as the following items become increasingly clear:

    1. Significant phenotypic changes can occur in the absence of any genotypic change.

    2. And vice-versa. Significant genotypic changes can leave phenotypes unchanged.

    3. Genetic patterns are not invariably transferred from parents to offspring.

    4. Chimeras (i.e. individuals containing some living cells from genetically dissimilar individuals and even genetically dissimilar species) are the norm, including germ-line chimeras.

    As I have stated before, DNA needs to be thought of not as a blueprint for life or a repository of information, but as an organ of protein synthesis whose specific operations are quite flexible under actual living conditions. The idea of DNA as the source or pole of the organism’s phenomenal qualities is an artifact of intellection, which must needs discover some sort of primum mobile behind the sense-perceptible world. Such a source does exist, but it is the soul, the immaterial form of the material body, and not the DNA (which, however microscopic, is still material and is really just “the body”).

    The soul is a form, and forms are necessarily immaterial. Modern biology makes the mistake of attributing formal causation to DNA when DNA is in fact just one of number of contributing material causes of the body.

    • Agree: Almost Missouri
    • Replies: @Dirk Dagger

    … mediocre intellects.
     
    Excuse me, but I self-identify as a genius.
    , @Almost Missouri
    Or to be more brief, today genetics is thought of as being a cause, but in reality it is an effect, though a highly ramified one.
  17. @CraigAustin
    I read recently that they have found the coyodog hybrid to be largely a myth, apparently they are a Red Wolf hybrid. In controlled conditions coyote / domestic dog pairing resulted in unhealthy and often neglected offspring . I live in southern Ontario and both are present on my property, I have game cameras and have witnessed Red Wolves vigorously hunting Coyotes and Foxes. Finding fresh kills is never pretty, but finding a freshly "wolf killed" coyote is a new level of brutal, they tear them to pieces, not for food, it really looks like anger is involved. Coyotes tend to be loners, and well under 40 lbs, the Red Wolves are pack animals, and look like closer to 80-90lbs. I don't have the link handy but I believe it was done through Guelph University.

    Wow. It sounds like Red Wolves are really racist.

  18. @Steve Sailer
    And dogs too.

    On the other hand, dogs, wolves, and coyotes seem pretty different even though they can interbreed.

    We know to carve nature at the joints: dogs, wolves, and coyotes are, on the whole, kind of different but they are more similar than dogs and cats. But we don't know a priori whether to split or lump.

    A lot of the pseudo-intellectual claims that Race Does Not Exist are based on the same kind of ideas.

    Viability is the key. If the hybrids are less viable then they are classifiable as different species. Wolves kill coyotes, but people kill wolves, so the hybrids were more viable.

  19. @CraigAustin
    I read recently that they have found the coyodog hybrid to be largely a myth, apparently they are a Red Wolf hybrid. In controlled conditions coyote / domestic dog pairing resulted in unhealthy and often neglected offspring . I live in southern Ontario and both are present on my property, I have game cameras and have witnessed Red Wolves vigorously hunting Coyotes and Foxes. Finding fresh kills is never pretty, but finding a freshly "wolf killed" coyote is a new level of brutal, they tear them to pieces, not for food, it really looks like anger is involved. Coyotes tend to be loners, and well under 40 lbs, the Red Wolves are pack animals, and look like closer to 80-90lbs. I don't have the link handy but I believe it was done through Guelph University.

    Multiple studies from the last few years confirm coyote-wolf-dog hybridization:
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coywolf
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coydog

  20. In an attempt to promote racial harmony in light of the prosecutorial mess in Baltimore, I understand that President Obama is going to propose changing the name of the “gray wolf” to the “Freddy Gray wolf.” That should go a long way toward calming the stormy racial seas. If the Congress doesn’t act swiftly on his legislative proposal, he will have no choice but to issue an executive order.

  21. @Intelligent Dasein
    I would have to disagree that anything---one way or the other---is "proved" by DNA studies. Genetics is to biology exactly what Climate Change is to meteorology. Not only is it untenable garbage science to begin with, it is heavily politicized garbage science as interpreted by mediocre intellects.

    I predict that the whole concept of biomolecular genetics will undergo a complete overhaul in the decades ahead as the following items become increasingly clear:

    1. Significant phenotypic changes can occur in the absence of any genotypic change.

    2. And vice-versa. Significant genotypic changes can leave phenotypes unchanged.

    3. Genetic patterns are not invariably transferred from parents to offspring.

    4. Chimeras (i.e. individuals containing some living cells from genetically dissimilar individuals and even genetically dissimilar species) are the norm, including germ-line chimeras.

    As I have stated before, DNA needs to be thought of not as a blueprint for life or a repository of information, but as an organ of protein synthesis whose specific operations are quite flexible under actual living conditions. The idea of DNA as the source or pole of the organism's phenomenal qualities is an artifact of intellection, which must needs discover some sort of primum mobile behind the sense-perceptible world. Such a source does exist, but it is the soul, the immaterial form of the material body, and not the DNA (which, however microscopic, is still material and is really just "the body").

    The soul is a form, and forms are necessarily immaterial. Modern biology makes the mistake of attributing formal causation to DNA when DNA is in fact just one of number of contributing material causes of the body.

    … mediocre intellects.

    Excuse me, but I self-identify as a genius.

  22. Caucasians and Asians are red wolves
    Part Neanderthal, part modern human and probably part something else.

  23. Could it be that the extinction of the giant sloth, etc. in North America is due not to the Indians but to the wolves that came over from Siberia?

  24. @Steve Sailer
    And dogs too.

    On the other hand, dogs, wolves, and coyotes seem pretty different even though they can interbreed.

    We know to carve nature at the joints: dogs, wolves, and coyotes are, on the whole, kind of different but they are more similar than dogs and cats. But we don't know a priori whether to split or lump.

    A lot of the pseudo-intellectual claims that Race Does Not Exist are based on the same kind of ideas.

    “A lot of the pseudo-intellectual claims that Race Does Not Exist are based on the same kind of ideas.”

    Whenever I read a “Race Does Not Exist” article by a scientist, the author usually spends less time arguing scientific evidence than getting stymied by age-old questions about the Problem of Universals. Often, his training in philosophy is so superficial (or nonexistent) that he doesn’t realize he’s simply re-treading a discussion from Plato and Aristotle, rather than making any relevant point about modern biology.

    Indeed, I have a vague hunch that our perpetual confusion about race & species may be somehow related to intellectuals’ abandonment of Aristotelian Realism, though I haven’t brought this idea to any of my professional philosopher friends for vetting.

  25. “Race” can mean anything from the overarching “Human Race” to the rather more detailed “Bavarian Race”. Or, for all I know, South East Central Bavarian Race.

    Any scientist discussing race (for laymen) who does not acknowledge the spread of uses of the word in English is being a dullard or a scoundrel. In fact, given the spread of uses it’s not clear to me why you’d solicit the views of an unreflective scientist.

  26. fnn says:
    @CraigAustin
    I read recently that they have found the coyodog hybrid to be largely a myth, apparently they are a Red Wolf hybrid. In controlled conditions coyote / domestic dog pairing resulted in unhealthy and often neglected offspring . I live in southern Ontario and both are present on my property, I have game cameras and have witnessed Red Wolves vigorously hunting Coyotes and Foxes. Finding fresh kills is never pretty, but finding a freshly "wolf killed" coyote is a new level of brutal, they tear them to pieces, not for food, it really looks like anger is involved. Coyotes tend to be loners, and well under 40 lbs, the Red Wolves are pack animals, and look like closer to 80-90lbs. I don't have the link handy but I believe it was done through Guelph University.

    Then there was the locally famous wild wolf in Alaska who liked to play withe local dogs assembled at Juneau’s Mendenhall Glacier:
    https://retrieverman.net/tag/romeo-the-wolf/

    This guy thinks that persecution by humans turned Lower 48 wolves psychotic:
    https://retrieverman.net/2009/02/09/proof-the-modern-wolves-a-bit-psychotic/

    Cannibalism is very rare in dogs. In fact, the old saying “dog eat dog” comes from the fact that it has to be very bad before a dog will eat another dog. When my grandpa was trapping foxes, he told me that dogs wouldn’t even eat the carcasses of the skinned red and gray foxes. Dogs really have some sort of issues about eating each other.

    Wolves don’t seem to have that problem.

    I think that this may have something to do with our centuries long persecution of the wolf, which has left us only with rather psychotic, low serotonin animals in the wolf population. We have selected for this behavior, not nature.

    If wolves had always had this behavior, then we would’ve never been able to domestic dogs, even if we accept that dogs descend from wolves that scavenged off of people. Modern wolves that scavenge off of people are quite dangerous. In fact, the only well-documented fatality that seems to come from wolves in North America is from habituated “garbage wolves.” I doubt that ancient humans would’ve put up with aggressive garbage wolves near their settlements. In fact, if they had possessed this temperament from the beginning, I think that wolves probably would have never been allowed near camps at all. In modern wolves, when they lose their fear of people, they don’t become dogs. They become dangerous.

    …The one I see that is much more of a problem relationship between wolves and people is that wolves almost always kill dogs that they encounter. Perhaps wolves were less likely to do so in the past, because there are accounts of wolves and dogs sharing bison carcasses in the Old West. Lewis and Clark’s Newfoundland, “Seaman,” wandered freely through wolf country (where there were lots and lots of wolves), and not once was he attacked. This tells me that something has changed in wolves, and we had better adjust our thinking about this animal if it is ever to continue to exist.

    I think killing them off in the early days of settlement in this country was a major mistake. We should have imported livestock guardian animals, including dogs, to protect our flocks. But that’s not the custom of our first settlers, who really didn’t have big livestock guardian dogs to do the work. Plus, there was a deep fear of wolves. I think that the various methods we used to kill the wolf-poisoning, hounding, shooting, clubbing, knifing, etc– had a profound effect upon wolf evolution. They turned an animal that was easily domesticated, even by people with very little technology, into an animal that is at best almost paranoid in its fear of people and at its worst dangerous to humans, livestock, and dogs.

  27. I’ve read that it is unresolved whether dogs are a species of their own or a subspecies of wolf. Canis familaris or Canis lupus familiaris.

  28. @Intelligent Dasein
    I would have to disagree that anything---one way or the other---is "proved" by DNA studies. Genetics is to biology exactly what Climate Change is to meteorology. Not only is it untenable garbage science to begin with, it is heavily politicized garbage science as interpreted by mediocre intellects.

    I predict that the whole concept of biomolecular genetics will undergo a complete overhaul in the decades ahead as the following items become increasingly clear:

    1. Significant phenotypic changes can occur in the absence of any genotypic change.

    2. And vice-versa. Significant genotypic changes can leave phenotypes unchanged.

    3. Genetic patterns are not invariably transferred from parents to offspring.

    4. Chimeras (i.e. individuals containing some living cells from genetically dissimilar individuals and even genetically dissimilar species) are the norm, including germ-line chimeras.

    As I have stated before, DNA needs to be thought of not as a blueprint for life or a repository of information, but as an organ of protein synthesis whose specific operations are quite flexible under actual living conditions. The idea of DNA as the source or pole of the organism's phenomenal qualities is an artifact of intellection, which must needs discover some sort of primum mobile behind the sense-perceptible world. Such a source does exist, but it is the soul, the immaterial form of the material body, and not the DNA (which, however microscopic, is still material and is really just "the body").

    The soul is a form, and forms are necessarily immaterial. Modern biology makes the mistake of attributing formal causation to DNA when DNA is in fact just one of number of contributing material causes of the body.

    Or to be more brief, today genetics is thought of as being a cause, but in reality it is an effect, though a highly ramified one.

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