Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

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Sunday, September 06, 2009

TEXAS BLUE DOG PROJECT: Research help needed

The dogs of blueness

The CFZ has, as you may know, been running a project looking into the Texas Blue Dog for a while now. However, although Jon and I have our own thoughts on the phenomenon, we would both like to know what you, dear fanatic, think on the subject.

Also, in a similar vein, we would love people to look into the following subjects to help us with our research:

  • Coyote, Dog, Grey Wolf and Red Wolf hybrids; which species will interbreed with which? And how strong are the offspring?
  • Have there been any massive wipe-outs of canine populations in Texas in the last 2000 years?
  • How common is blue skin amongst canids?
  • Do any species of wild canid throw up hairless sports?
  • Have there been any reports matching the Texas Blue Dogs from anywhere else, either worldwide or USA based?
  • Are there any ancient domestic dog breeds from Mexico and Texas that could match the Blue Dog descriptions?
  • Do any canids actually drink blood?
  • How many different Blue Dogs have been found dead in Texas?

If anyone has the knowledge to answer these questions, or would be kind enough to research it, please let me know at max@cfz.org,uk .


Retrieverman said...

Coyotes, wolves, and dogs will interbreed and produce fertile offspring. Wolves and dogs are the same species. I tend to follow the classical taxonomic definition of a red wolf and consider it conspecific with the other wolves-- just heavily polluted with coyote MtDNA through the millennia.

We do know that black wolves of any kind and black coyotes are the result of cross breeding with domestic dogs.


The hind dewclaws in Italian wolves are the result of hybridization with domestic dogs (it is used as a diagonistic for hybridization):


I just recently wrote about some "red wolves" that were found in Florida (which the Fortean Zoology Blog linked to in the past week.) However, these animals were coyotes with tons of white on them:


The white comes from crossbreeding with domestic dogs.

It turns out that a substantial minority of coyotes in the Eastern and Southern parts of their range have dog MtDNA-- meaning they had a female dog ancestor somewhere.


Generally, female dogs can have puppies with male coyotes. That's because female coyotes are fertile only over a narrow window, and because most female coyotes won't allow themselves to be bred by dogs. However, female coyotes have interbred with male wolves in the wild, especially in the red and Eastern North American wolf populations. As wolves disappeared and coyotes moved in, they started interbreeding.

I don't know what is causing the blue dog phenomenon (I'm not talking politics here).

It could be mange.

It could be that some Texas coyotes are evolving a hairless trait to avoid infestation from ectoparasites.

We also know that all hairless dogs descend from Latin American dogs that are thought to have originally evolved that trait to avoid ectoparasites.

We also have lots of street dogs in Latin American, including Mexico, that have hairlessness. http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/hairlesskhala.htm

This gene could have been introduced into Mexican coyote population, which then dispersed into Texas.

However, the gene that causes this is a dominant gene that also causes weak dentition. I'm not seeing weak dentition in that frozen blue dog.

I can talk about this at length if anyone is interested-- just e-mail me at retrieverman1@yahoo.com

I am not an expert biologist or geneticist, but I have been carefully reading the peer reviewed articles on dog, coyote, and wolf evolution and ancestry for some time.

Retrieverman said...

Gray foxes (Urocyon) sometimes are single coated (called Samson foxes because they lose their hair):

1. http://wildlifemysteries.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/samson-fox.jpg?w=316&h=245

2. http://wildlifemysteries.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/samson-fox-ii.jpg?w=600&h=414

3. http://wildlifemysteries.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/samson-fox-iii.jpg?w=350&h=278

The last one is a gray fox. They sometimes come in this red coloration when they are in a Samson form.

Retrieverman said...

Blue skin is represented by the genotype B/B or B/b. My golden retrievers have all had this skin color. If you were to clip my dog (and my sister nearly did) down to the skin, you would see this skin color. Goldens have another genotype e/e that prevents the black skin color from appearing on their coat. e/e dogs vary in color from white (poodles, white GSD/Alsatians) to deep mahogany colored (red setters).