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Thread: A Very Blunt Genetics Question: Species Definition

  1. #1 A Very Blunt Genetics Question: Species Definition 
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    If a donkey mates with a horse, the result is a mule, although horses and donkeys are separate species. However, if a small dog mates with a cat, no hybrid animal is conceived. What are the genetic thresholds that determine species and prevent different species from producing offspring? Why is this superseded in the case of some hybrid animals? Links to data sources would be appreciated.


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    Forum Radioactive Isotope Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    species is a rather fluid human definition. Check our ring species for a more interesting case. Both mules and Horses are in the same genus, the same as coyotes and dogs. On the other hand dogs and cats are different suborders of Carnivores. A general (but not concrete) rule is that species in the same genus MAY be able to interbreed, but species in different genera generally can't.


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    Forum Freshman shazzy's Avatar
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    species.. i think that a new species will occur when the genetic formed by hybrid organism is inherited to the new generation and keep reproduce fertile offsprings.. in mule case, does they produce fertile offspring?
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    its all dependent on how the taxonomists want to consider the hybrids.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by shazzy View Post
    species.. i think that a new species will occur when the genetic formed by hybrid organism is inherited to the new generation and keep reproduce fertile offsprings.. in mule case, does they produce fertile offspring?
    No, mules cannot produce offspring at all. That is why they are not considered a separate species. The question of whether two organisms can produce offspring and whether or not that offspring can then "breed true" (or breed at all) depends upon who close their chromosomes are
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    Don't speak of absolutes and science in the same breath. There has been at least one fertile mule.
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    Cornsnake (Pantherophis guttatus) x California kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula californiae) are different genera yet produce fertile offspring. These amongst hobbyists are always regarded as hybrid.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope Paleoichneum's Avatar
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    Both of them are part of a closely related genus grouping, I would not be surprised if they were combined into a single large genus with several subgenera at some point.
    If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. -Thorin Oakenshield

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