Life as We Know It
Wolves, hibernating animals, spitting cobras and more
- By Joseph Caputo, T.A. Frail, Megan Gambino, Abigail Tucker and Sarah Zielinski
- Smithsonian magazine, April 2009
(Jim and Jamie Dutcher / NGS Image Collection)
Wolves come in gray, white and, in North America, black. Where did those unusual black coats originate? Scientists from Stanford University and elsewhere compared the DNA of wolves from the Canadian Arctic and Yellowstone National Park with the DNA of coyotes and dogs. The black coat gene, the researchers found, appears to have come from dogs. Some North American wolves likely interbred with domesticated dogs, now extinct, that accompanied people who crossed the Bering Strait from Asia more than 10,000 years ago.
"Molecular and Evolutionary History of Melanism in North American Gray Wolves," Tovi M. Anderson et al., Science, February 5, 2009.
"New Protocetid Whale from the Middle Eocene of Pakistan: Birth on Land, Precocial Development, and Sexual Dimorphism," Philip D. Gingerich et al., PLoS ONE, February 2009.
"Contribution of Fish to the Marine Inorganic Carbon Cycle," R. W. Wilson et al., Science, January 16, 2009.
"Functional Bases of the Spatial Dispersal of Venom during Cobra 'Spitting'," Bruce A. Young et al., Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, January/February 2009.
"Lower Extinction Risk in Sleep-or-Hide Mammals," Lee Hsiang Liow et al., American Naturalist, February 2009.