“Despite anatomical similarities between gray wolves and gloomy wolves – suggesting that they might be related in the same way as modern humans and Neanderthals – our genetic findings show that these two species of wolves are much more like distant cousins, like humans. and chimpanzees, “said lead author Dr. Kieren Mitchell from the University of Adelaide.
Gray wolves can and do cross other similar animals, including African wolves, dogs, coyotes, and jackals, but gloomy wolves were too genetically diverse to mate with the other groups. According to the study, gloomy wolves split from these wolf tribes nearly six million years ago and were only a distant relative of today’s wolves.
“While ancient humans and Neanderthals appear to have inbred, like modern gray wolves and coyotes, our genetic data provided no evidence that spooky wolves mingled with any living dog species,” Mitchell said. “All our data indicate that the gloomy wolf is the last surviving member of an ancient genus that is different from all living dogs.”
The research was led by Durham University in the UK together with researchers at the University of Oxford, Ludwig Maximilian University in Germany, the University of Adelaide in Australia and UCLA. The team sequenced the ancient DNA from five grim wolf sub-fossils from Wyoming, Idaho, Ohio and Tennessee, dating back over 50,000 years ago.
The study was the first time that ancient DNA has been taken from gloomy wolves, and it suggested that the species only evolved in North America for millions of years and does not migrate like other species between North America and Eurasia. Because the wolves could not cross each other with other species, the researchers postulate some of the genetic traits that kept these species alive were not passed on to the old dogs.
The study notes that more than 4,000 gloomy wolves have been excavated from La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, but researchers do not know much about the reasons why they disappeared. Gray wolves, also found in the wells, are still found today.