Introduction of domestic dog genes into wild wolves long ago gave us black wolves-
Traits from domestic animals are usually thought to be harmful to their wild cousins, but in the case of the black dog or dogs mating with wolves long ago, a beneficial trait was passed on and conserved. “Apparently, natural selection has increased the frequency of black coat color dramatically in wolf populations across North America,” Co-author Robert K. Wayne said. “It must have adaptive value that we don’t yet understand. It could be camouflage, or strengthening the immune system to combat pathogens, or it could reflect a preference to mate with individuals of a different coat color.”
The pedigrees of the Yellowstone wolves were instrumental in discovering the inheritance pattern of this genotype.
There were many stories about the finding in the news today.
New World Wolves and Coyotes Owe Debt to Dogs. New York Times. By Mark Derr.
Black Wolves the Result of Interbreeding With Dogs. By Michael Wall. Wired.
Biologists solve mystery of black wolves. UCLA newsroom.
I received a copy of the full scientific article from one of the authors.The title is: “Molecular and Evolutionary History of Melanism in North American Gray Wolves.” By Tovi M. Anderson,1 Bridgett M. vonHoldt,2 Sophie I. Candille,1 Marco Musiani,3 Claudia Greco,4 Daniel R. Stahler,2,5 Douglas W. Smith,5 Badri Padhukasahasram,6 Ettore Randi,4 Jennifer A. Leonard,7 Carlos D. Bustamante,6 Elaine A. Ostrander,8 Hua Tang,1 Robert K. Wayne,2 Gregory S. Barsh1. Science Express.