Here’s a thought to ponder on today: would you take in a wolf and treat it like a pet as you would a dog?
The answer most likely would be a big fat no, right? But what if we told you that dogs and wolves are the same species? Meaning that they’re almost exactly the same animal. Would that change your mind about wolves?
Many people understand that domesticated dogs “came” from wolves, but where does the wolf stop and the dog begin?
According to paleontologist Jack Tseng, dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) and gray wolves (Canis lupus) likely are of the same species because they share the most genes, but he doesn’t blame anyone for thinking otherwise.
“If you were a biologist who comes from a society that never had any dogs associated with humans and you looked at these dogs, you would immediately think that these were different species,” Tseng informed Live Science.
Tseng explained to Live Science that there’s no clear answer on whether the domesticated dog should be considered a subspecies of wolf, or a completely separate species.
There are two things about dogs that tells us they’re all the same species: their genetic makeup and they’re interfertile, which means they can interbreed and produce offspring. The latter also applies to wolves.
According to Tseng domestic dogs can interbreed with wolves, a genetic detail which supports the notion of classifying dogs in the same species as wolves.
But before you start thinking cute names for your pet wolf, there are differences between wolves and dogs that could label them as contrasting species.
The anatomies of a wolf and a dog can be dramatically different, like the prominence of their foreheads and how much room each of their mouths have for teeth.
In other words, the jury is still out on whether to categorize wolves and dogs as the same species, but Tseng did make a convincing argument as to why wolves and dogs could be seen as the same species.