One of our faithful Facebook followers, Peggy L, asked a very good question that I’ve heard often and thought I would take a few moments on this Thanksgiving weekend to respond to her.
From: Peggy L.
If dogs evolved from wolves, why are wolves still with us?
Thank you for posting your question on our Facebook page. I have actually heard this question a number of times and hope to provide you with satisfactory response.
The original dog/wolf kind that God created would have had a great deal of genetic variability, especially since God knew that some would eventually live in hot arid regions of the world, some if cold and snowy regions and others in temperate regions. Therefore they would have carried genes for short hair, medium hair and long hair. They would have additional genes for thin hair (few numbers of hairs per square inch) and genes for thick luxuriant coats (hundreds of hairs per square inch). They would have had genes for long legs and short legs, and so on and so on.
When the original pair of wolves bred, they would have produced offspring that carried different variations of all of these genes. Out of a litter of eight, every pup could have looked quite different than the parents, and may be one or two looked just like mom and dad.
After several more litters of pups, most with traits different than mom and dad, they begin to pair up and breed and produce pups with even more different characteristics. Eventually, they begin to spread out from the original territory and venture into climates that vary. Those with the traits that lend to better survival in the new territories will be successful and produce more offspring while those that don’t have better adaptive traits will be forced to move on or die.
Thus we go from wolves to coyotes, foxes, jackals, and dogs, but your question is if all this results in a reduction of genetic variation, then why do we still have wolves today.
First of all we cannot be sure that the wolves we have today are identical to the original created kind, and in all likelihood, they aren’t, especially since we have a few different varieties of wolves today.
But if you recall, I said that some of the pups would be very similar to mom and dad in their traits. Chances are that the traits exhibited by the original created kind were the dominant traits. The other traits would have been recessive traits or traits that were originally turned off until the right set of circumstances.
Over time, these dominant genes pared together, eliminating many recessive ones. The result is a wolf that looks very much like the original kinds, but with less built in variation than their ancestors had.
To help demonstrate, allow me to offer this example where both the male and female created kind contained the following genes for hair length: AaBbCc. Their offspring could have any combination of those genes ranging from AABBCC to AaBbCc to aabbcc. See the illustration below using a Punnet square to show all of the possible combinations of offspring:
There are 64 possible combinations of offspring. All of those offspring highlighted in shades of blue will look similar to the parents. The lighter the blue shading they may look somewhat similar to the parents but with some possible variation. The one in red will be nearly opposite to the parents. Those in white will have any number of possible variations between the parents and what the aabbcc would look like.
Now if an AABBCC breeds with another AABBCC, all of their offspring will look just like the parents, thus wolves could still exist while other offspring can produce all of the other varieties of foxes, coyotes, dingoes and dogs.
In a healthy population of individuals, there can be a sufficient amount of variation, AaBbCc, but the pressures on that population, such as climate and result in the vast majority of offspring looking like the parents while those that exhibits a greater percentage of different traits are less likely to survive, causing the population to appear to be fairly constant.
I pray I didn’t make this too complicated as I am told that I sometimes do. Hopefully you will understand that it is possible for wolves to still exist at the same time that all of the different varieties that they gave rise to also exist.
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