Species formation via inter-species hybrids

Folks here will know that I’ve occasionally pointed out a stupidness in the way species are defined. By definition, the result of an inter-species hybrid is forbidden to be thought of as a new species. This, IMHO, is rank stupid of the highest form as we have a load of evidence for species “sudden formation” by exactly that means. The Triangle Of Wu, for example, explains how 3 new species families come out of inter-species crosses between the original mustards, turnips, and cabbages.

While I learned it as Wu, the recent (more PC?, or just propagating a Japanese error?) trend is to call it “U”. In reality the guys name is a Korean character set and any transliteration is as right as any other, in that they are all made up. But I digress…


The triangle of U is a theory about the evolution and relationships between members of the plant genus Brassica. The theory states that the genomes of three ancestral species of Brassica combined to create three of the common modern vegetables and oilseed crop species. It has since been confirmed by studies of DNA and proteins.

The theory was first published in 1935 by Woo Jang-choon, a Korean-Japanese botanist who was working in Japan (where his name was transliterated as “Nagaharu U”, his Japanese name). Woo made synthetic hybrids between the diploid and tetraploid species and examined how the chromosomes paired in the resulting triploids.

So maybe Triangle of Woo is more accurate… Woo Wu U… but I digress…

The key point here is that a boat load of key vegetables, from rutabagas to Russian kale to rapeseed (canola) to some kinds of mustard species are directly a result of inter-species hybrids and have been recreated from the original species as proof of it.

Something similar happened with wheat, so we have several kinds of wheat that are very different (yet all called wheat, though some get ‘special’ names too like spelt and emmer). There has been a bit of a cult rise up over the different kinds of wheat with folks claiming that modern wheat has a toxic kind of gluten not found in old wheats and that it causes all sorts of health problems. If find that hard to accept given that the basic crosses happened long ago and the components of the gluten are fairly common in many kinds of seeds; but this posting isn’t about that (and I’ve not gone into it in any depth, really).

But what is of interest to me is that there are these several crosses of different grass species in the wheat lines. Yet more ‘new species from inter-species hybrids’. I’m fond of saying that “The Species Barrier is really more of a Species Strong Suggestion”… And wheat shows that clearly.

Sidebar On Ploidy

– or how many copies of chromosomes and genes you have

There are a great many other of these inter-species hybrids, especially in plants. Plants are rather more willing to just ‘double up’ their chromosome count and let all the chromosomes ‘get along’ together. This is called being a “tetraploid” or sometimes just a polyploid, as in this text about the brassicas:

These three species exist as separate species, but because they are closely related, it was possible for them to interbreed. This interspecific breeding allowed for the creation of three new species of tetraploid Brassica. Because they are derived from the genomes of two different species, these hybrid plants are said to be allotetraploid (contain four genomes, derived from two different ancestral species). (More specifically, they are amphidiploid, i.e., containing one diploid genome from each of the two different Brassica species). Data from molecular studies indicate the three diploid species are themselves paleopolyploids.

Note that last bit about paleopolyploids. This ‘doubling up’ goes on all the time in all sorts of species, and has for the history of life. And that, BTW, is what makes a turnip different from a rutabaga. Both the rutabaga and Russian Kale are a interspecies cross between the turnip and the cabbage lines, but with different results; while the turnip is just a turnip… and with 1/2 the genes of a rutabaga.


Polyploidy is the state where all cells have multiple sets of chromosomes beyond the basic set, usually 3 or more. Specific terms are triploid (3 sets), tetraploid (4 sets), pentaploid (5 sets), hexaploid (6 sets), heptaploid or septaploid (7 sets) octoploid (8 sets), nonaploid (9 sets), decaploid (10 sets), undecaploid (11 sets), dodecaploid (12 sets), tridecaploid (13 sets), tetradecaploid (14 sets) etc. Some higher ploidies include hexadecaploid (16 sets), dotriacontaploid (32 sets), and tetrahexacontaploid (64 sets), though Greek terminology may be set aside for readability in cases of higher ploidy (such as “16-ploid”). Polytene chromosomes of plants and fruit flies can be 1024-ploid. Ploidy of systems such as the salivary gland, elaiosome, endosperm, and trophoblast can exceed this, up to 1048576-ploid in the silk glands of the commercial silkworm Bombyx mori.

The chromosome sets may be from the same species or from closely related species. In the latter case, these are known as allopolyploids (or amphidiploids, which are allopolyploids that behave as if they were normal diploids). Allopolyploids are formed from the hybridization of two separate species. In plants, this probably most often occurs from the pairing of meiotically unreduced gametes, and not by diploid–diploid hybridization followed by chromosome doubling. The so-called Brassica triangle is an example of allopolyploidy, where three different parent species have hybridized in all possible pair combinations to produce three new species.

Polyploidy occurs commonly in plants, but rarely in animals. Even in diploid organisms, many somatic cells are polyploid due to a process called endoreduplication where duplication of the genome occurs without mitosis (cell division).

The extreme in polyploidy occurs in the fern genus Ophioglossum, the adder’s-tongues, in which polyploidy results in chromosome counts in the hundreds, or, in at least one case, well over one thousand.

It is also possible for polyploid organisms to revert to lower ploidy by means of haploidisation.

So sometimes the genes “double up”, sometimes they “double up from two parent species”, and sometimes you get a shuffle and mix, or other times a mutate and mix, and then sometimes you can get a reversion back to a lower count via a ‘divide by 2’. With all that shuffle, mix, cut the deck, reshuffle and double the deck with mixing from other species; well, that’s how you get big leaps of species formation, IMHO. While I’m sure at some point they will be forced to accept species hybrids as species formations, last time I looked it was still a forbidden conclusion. Yet nature does not listen to the definitions of biologists…

On Wheat

Wheat cultivation has been around for about 10,000 years. (At that point it gets murky, and IMHO could have an even earlier history in the prior turn of civilization, but that’s speculative). What is known is that it originated in this line of history about 10 kya, and with some specific kinds in evidence about 8000 B.C.


Cultivation of wheat began to spread beyond the Fertile Crescent after about 8000 BCE. Jared Diamond traces the spread of cultivated emmer wheat starting in the Fertile Crescent sometime before 8800 BCE. Archaeological analysis of wild emmer indicates that it was first cultivated in the southern Levant with finds at Iran dating back as far as 9600 BCE. Genetic analysis of wild einkorn wheat suggests that it was first grown in the Karacadag Mountains in southeastern Turkey. Dated archeological remains of einkorn wheat in settlement sites near this region, including those at Abu Hureyra in Syria, suggest the domestication of einkorn near the Karacadag Mountain Range. With the anomalous exception of two grains from Iraq ed-Dubb, the earliest carbon-14 date for einkorn wheat remains at Abu Hureyra is 7800 to 7500 years BCE.

Remains of harvested emmer from several sites near the Karacadag Range have been dated to between 8600 (at Cayonu) and 8400 BCE (Abu Hureyra), that is, in the Neolithic period. With the exception of Iraq ed-Dubb, the earliest carbon-14 dated remains of domesticated emmer wheat were found in the earliest levels of Tell Aswad, in the Damascus basin, near Mount Hermon in Syria. These remains were dated by Willem van Zeist and his assistant Johanna Bakker-Heeres to 8800 BCE. They also concluded that the settlers of Tell Aswad did not develop this form of emmer themselves, but brought the domesticated grains with them from an as yet unidentified location elsewhere.

I’m particularly intrigued by that mention at the end of “from an as yet unidentified location elsewhere”…

But even here we have direct evidence of emmer at 9600 B.C. and it originated about the time the Gobekli Tepe folks where disappearing. Hmmmm….


So what makes Emmer “special”?

Wheat genetics is more complicated than that of most other domesticated species. Some wheat species are diploid, with two sets of chromosomes, but many are stable polyploids, with four sets of chromosomes (tetraploid) or six (hexaploid).

Einkorn wheat (T. monococcum) is diploid (AA, two complements of seven chromosomes, 2n=14).

Most tetraploid wheats (e.g. emmer and durum wheat) are derived from wild emmer, T. dicoccoides. Wild emmer is itself the result of a hybridization between two diploid wild grasses, T. urartu and a wild goatgrass such as Aegilops searsii or Ae. speltoides. The unknown grass has never been identified among now surviving wild grasses, but the closest living relative is Aegilops speltoides. The hybridization that formed wild emmer (AABB) occurred in the wild, long before domestication, and was driven by natural selection.

Hexaploid wheats evolved in farmers’ fields. Either domesticated emmer or durum wheat hybridized with yet another wild diploid grass (Aegilops tauschii) to make the hexaploid wheats, spelt wheat and bread wheat. These have three sets of paired chromosomes, three times as many as in diploid wheat.

So we have a regular diploid ( one copy from each parent, so two total copies of the genes) as Einkorn Wheat.

Emmer is a tetraploid, made via a hybridizing event with a wild goat grass before 10,000 B.C. and in the wild. We also see that durum wheat is similar in genetic numbers, but a different type of wheat (used in noodles ;-)

Finally, we get yet another interspecies cross that gives us the “three-fer” wheats with hexaploid gene sets. Spelt (that oddly some folks cling to as a ‘primitive wheat’ and therefor somehow ‘better’ – but actually a more recent formation than Emmer and far more recent than Einkorn) along with the more common bread wheats of today (more starch than Durum). But now we are up to 3 different species “getting together” to make the bread wheat of today. Having a “three way” has been around for a very long time… at least for plants…

Since then, humans have crossed wheat with rye to be Triticale.



E.A. Oelke1, E.S. Oplinger2, and M.A. Brinkman2

1Department of Agronomy and Plant Genetics, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108.
2Department of Agronomy, College of Agricultural and Life Sciences and Cooperative Extension Service, University of Wisconsin-Madison, WI 53706. Nov., 1989.

I. History:

Triticale (trit-ih-KAY-lee) is a crop species resulting from a plant breeder’s cross between wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale). The name triticale (Triticale hexaploide Lart.) combines the scientific names of the two genera involved. It is produced by doubling the chromosomes of the sterile hybrid that results when crossing wheat and rye. This doubling produces what is called a polyploid.

Hybrids between wheat and rye date back to 1875, but until recently there was little effort to develop highyielding triticales as a field crop. Plant breeders originally wanted to include the combination of grain quality, productivity, and disease resistance of wheat with the vigor and hardiness of rye. The University of Manitoba began the first intensive program in North America about 30 years ago working mostly with durum wheat-rye crosses. Both winter and spring types were developed, with emphasis on spring types. Since Canada’s program, other public and private programs have initiated both durum wheat-rye and common wheat-rye crosses. The major triticale development program in North America is now at the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center in Mexico, with some private companies continuing triticale programs; however, the University of Manitoba has discontinued its program.

Even though triticale is a cross between wheat and rye, it is self-pollinating (similar to wheat) and not cross pollinating (like rye). Most triticales that are agronomically desirable and breed true have resulted from several cycles of improvement, but are primarily from the durum-rye crosses with some common wheat parentage occasionally involved.

Now at this point we’ve got a serious set of different plant ancestors for the various wheat like grains we grow. And this is before you get into questions like what made up rye and einkorn in the first place…

But before this turns into a posting all about wheat, I’m just going to paste in a list of the different kinds of wheat in common use, and then move on to the thing that prompted this posting. Yet Another Species from an interspecies hybridizing event… But first, the wheat list from the wiki:

Major cultivated species of wheat

Hexaploid Species

Common wheat or Bread wheat (T. aestivum) – A hexaploid species that is the most widely cultivated in the world.

Spelt (T. spelta) – Another hexaploid species cultivated in limited quantities. Spelt is sometimes considered a subspecies of the closely related species common wheat (T. aestivum), in which case its botanical name is considered to be Triticum aestivum subsp. spelta.

Tetraploid Species

Durum (T. durum) – The only tetraploid form of wheat widely used today, and the second most widely cultivated wheat.

Emmer (T. dicoccon) – A tetraploid species, cultivated in ancient times but no longer in widespread use.

Khorasan (Triticum turgidum ssp. turanicum also called Triticum turanicum) is a tetraploid wheat species. It is an ancient grain type; Khorasan refers to a historical region in modern-day Afghanistan and the northeast of Iran. This grain is twice the size of modern-day wheat and is known for its rich nutty flavor.

Diploid Species

Einkorn (T. monococcum) – A diploid species with wild and cultivated variants. Domesticated at the same time as emmer wheat, but never reached the same importance.

Classes used in the United States:

Durum – Very hard, translucent, light-colored grain used to make semolina flour for pasta & bulghur; high in protein, specifically, gluten protein.

Hard Red Spring – Hard, brownish, high-protein wheat used for bread and hard baked goods. Bread Flour and high-gluten flours are commonly made from hard red spring wheat. It is primarily traded at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange.

Hard Red Winter – Hard, brownish, mellow high-protein wheat used for bread, hard baked goods and as an adjunct in other flours to increase protein in pastry flour for pie crusts. Some brands of unbleached all-purpose flours are commonly made from hard red winter wheat alone. It is primarily traded on the Kansas City Board of Trade. One variety is known as “turkey red wheat”, and was brought to Kansas by Mennonite immigrants from Russia.

Soft Red Winter – Soft, low-protein wheat used for cakes, pie crusts, biscuits, and muffins. Cake flour, pastry flour, and some self-rising flours with baking powder and salt added, for example, are made from soft red winter wheat. It is primarily traded on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Hard White – Hard, light-colored, opaque, chalky, medium-protein wheat planted in dry, temperate areas. Used for bread and brewing.

Soft White – Soft, light-colored, very low protein wheat grown in temperate moist areas. Used for pie crusts and pastry. Pastry flour, for example, is sometimes made from soft white winter wheat.

Red wheats may need bleaching; therefore, white wheats usually command higher prices than red wheats on the commodities market.

I find it interesting that different exchanges trade different wheat types. This also helps to explain why home made versions of some kinds of baked goods are never quite like the commercial ones. It is very hard to get the specific kinds of flour used when the store only sells bread flour, all purpose flour, and if very lucky, cake flour. That doesn’t even cover all the main types, and forget all the sub-types and variations.

But at least now you know why different flours have different characteristics. They are different species of wheat, and with different ancestor grasses.

FWIW, I’m still not sure just which wheat it is that the food purists think is too new and has the wrong kind of gluten in it. Maybe someday I’ll get around to chasing that particular thread…

But this brings us to the actual point of this posting. Just how far apart CAN an inter-species hybrid reach? I’ve speculated that we have an orangutan / chimp cross in our ancestry (and have a bit more evidence for that for a future posting – it involves preferences for “doggy style” vs not… ). That seems like too far a gap to span, yet some species have gone further.


One Giant Leap for Fern Kind

This fern species has a gap of about 60 Million years between parents.


Distant species produce ‘love child’ fern after 60-million-year breakup

Date: February 13, 2015

Source: Duke University


A delicate woodland fern discovered in the mountains of France is the love child of two distantly-related groups of plants that haven’t interbred in 60 million years, genetic analyses show. Reproducing after such a long evolutionary breakup is akin to an elephant hybridizing with a manatee, or a human with a lemur, the researchers say.

A bit of an overstatement, as plants are far more, um, “adventuresome” in gene swapping than are mammals. Yet maybe a 6 Million year gap for primates might be a reasonable comparison. So more like a Chimp and an Orangutan…

Led by Pryer and Carl Rothfels of the University of California, Berkeley, the study appears online today and in the March 2015 issue of the journal American Naturalist.

The pale green fern was found growing wild on a forest floor in the Pyrenees and eventually made its way to a nursery, where researchers plucked several fronds and extracted the DNA to pinpoint its parentage.
To their surprise, genetic analyses revealed that the fern was the result of a cross between an oak fern and a fragile fern — two distantly related groups that co-occur across much of the northern hemisphere, but stopped exchanging genes and split into separate lineages some 60 million years ago.

“To most people they just look like two ferns, but to fern researchers these two groups look really different,” Rothfels said.

Other studies have documented instances of tree frog species that proved capable of producing offspring after going their separate ways for 34 million years, and sunfish who hybridized after nearly 40 million years, but until now those were the most extreme reunions ever recorded.

So yet another example of a ‘new species’ made from a couple of old ones. Neatly showing how the lack of “missing links” is completely irrelevant to speciation.

I’d also note that inter-species hybrids are relatively common in related fish types along with the odd dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes et. al. There are also recorded cases of stable sheep / goat hybrids despite different chromosome counts. Usually to gain viability in mammals, there is the need to breed back to a particular parent gender to stabilize the chromosome counts. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haldane%27s_rule for more than most folks want to know…

Now 6 million years ago when humans first showed up, Chimps and Orangutans were 6 million years closer to each other than now. Any attempt at a cross now might not work so well, even if it did then. We might not even have the right species anyway ( for my money it was a Bonobo relative in the Chimp line, as those critters are more, er, active, than the other chips and thus, IMHO, more likely to have accepted some Orangutan ‘visits’…)

But if this fern is any evidence, that species “strong suggestion” might even be more of a “demure”…

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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20 Responses to Species formation via inter-species hybrids

  1. Adrian Vance says:

    The rule is not stupid: The reason for that rule is that you would have to have two genetically identical “sports” to breed to continue the species and build a population. That cannot happen; the probability is reciprocally galactic.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    @Adrian Vance.

    Um, that’s not correct. In fact, due to Haldane’s Rule, you usually get one sex that is infertile (often the male in mammals) and so the fertile one (usually a mammal female) must be ‘bred back’ to a male of one of the parent species. The probability of that is not “reciprocally galactic” and is actually fairly common. (I’ve seen a female mule and her child via a horse father… and then there are all those plant crosses that work first time…)

    In short, species that can cross can often more easily cross with the hybrid than with each other (that is already shown to work at that point) though one often needs to use a particular gender cross (see Haldane’s Rule link above).

    The rule that a hybrid can’t be a new species is simply stupid as there are dozens (perhaps hundreds) of existence proofs that it is not reflective of reality.

  3. E.M.Smith says:

    Here’s an example of a particularly difficult cross that was successfully mated:


    A male lion female tiger cross. So Haldane’s Rule would assert the female Liger might be fertile.


    The fertility of hybrid big cat females is well documented across a number of different hybrids. This is in accordance with Haldane’s rule
    : in hybrids of animals whose sex is determined by sex chromosomes, if one sex is absent, rare or sterile, it is the heterogametic sex (the one with two different sex chromosomes e.g. X and Y).

    According to Wild Cats of the World (1975) by C. A. W. Guggisberg, ligers and tigons were long thought to be sterile: in 1943, a fifteen-year-old hybrid between a lion and an ‘Island’ tiger was successfully mated with a lion at the Munich Hellabrunn Zoo. The female cub, though of delicate health, was raised to adulthood.

    In September 2012, the Russian Novosibirsk Zoo announced the birth of a “liliger”, which is the offspring of a liger mother and a lion father.
    The cub was named Kiara. In 2013 the same pair of an African lion and a female liger produced three more female cubs.

    Once you are at the second generation ( liliger ) you can start trying the cross within the group, but may need a second round of ‘back breeding’ to get viable males. Eventually (with enough crossing) you can stabilize the cross. At that point, you can start adding back in more of the other parent ( tiger in this case) to get more of a simple 50:50 genetic mix. Though this is more art than science as it depends on things like how divergent the chromosome counts are, and how the mix worked out, and how close it is to one or the other parents; so sometimes you need to try a lot of crosses to find out which one ‘works’.

    Eventually you can end up with a very stable cross that is in all observable ways a new species (rather like that fern in the link above that started all this).

    Some species and genuses (like canids) are much more prone to fertile crosses than others:


    Members of the dog genus Canis: gray wolves, domestic dogs, dingoes, Ethiopian wolves, coyotes, and golden jackals cannot interbreed with members of the wider dog family: the Canidae, such as South American canids, foxes, African wild dogs, bat-eared foxes or raccoon dogs; or, if they could, their offspring would be infertile.

    Members of the genus Canis can, however, all interbreed to produce fertile offspring,
    with two exceptions: the side-striped jackal and black-backed jackal. Although these two theoretically could interbreed with each other to produce fertile offspring, it appears they cannot hybridize successfully with the rest of the genus Canis.

    When the differences in number and arrangement of chromosomes is too great, hybridization becomes less and less likely. The wolf, dingo, dog, coyote, and golden jackal diverged relatively recently, around three to four million years ago, and all have 78 chromosomes arranged in 39 pairs. This allows them to hybridize freely (barring size or behavioral constraints) and produce fertile offspring. The side-striped jackal and black-backed jackal both have 74 chromosomes. Other members of the Canidae family, which diverged seven to ten million years ago, are less closely related to and cannot hybridize with the wolf-like canids; the red fox has 34 metacentric chromosomes and from 0 to 8 small B chromosomes, the raccoon dog has 42 chromosomes, the fennec fox has 64 chromosomes. The African wild dog, however, still has the same number, 78 chromosomes, as do the wolf-like canids but it has yet to hybridize with any of them.

    At least one long known “species” of wild canid has been found to be a hybrid of two others and has been reproducing in the wild for a long time. Though it looks like they are currently arguing over it as the “hybrids can’t be a species” folks fight back:

    The red wolf’s taxonomic status has been a subject of controversy. A 2011 genetic study indicated that it may be a hybrid species between gray wolves and coyotes. Re-analysis of this study coupled with a broader contextual analysis including behavioral, morphological and additional genetic information led to arguments that the red wolf is an independent species but has suffered from significant introgression of coyote genes likely due to decimation of red wolf packs with fragmentation of their social structure from hunting. A comprehensive review in October 2012 concluded that the red wolf is a distinct species which diverged from the coyote alongside the closely related eastern wolf 150,000-300,000 years ago, though, this review has not been universally accepted among relevant authorities

    So when does “hybrid” become “introgression”? Well… in any case, they mated cross species and were fertile.

    There are a whole lot more of such examples. It really is quite common. While having the same chromosome count helps a lot (for mammals) it isn’t strictly required (just shifts the odds a lot).

    The Geep is one of my favorite examples of mixed chromosome numbers working:


    At the Botswana Ministry of Agriculture in 2000, a male sheep impregnated a female goat resulting in a live offspring. This hybrid had 57 chromosomes, intermediate between sheep (54) and goats (60) and was intermediate between the two parent species in type. It had a coarse outer coat, a woolly inner coat, long goat-like legs and a heavy sheep-like body. Although infertile, the hybrid had a very active libido, mounting both ewes and does even when they were not in heat. He was castrated when he was 10 months old, as were the other kids and lambs in the herd.

    A male sheep impregnated a female goat in New Zealand resulting in a mixed litter of kids and a female sheep-goat hybrid with 57 chromosomes. The hybrid was subsequently shown to be fertile when mated with a ram. In France natural mating of a doe with a ram produced a female hybrid carrying 57 chromosomes. This animal backcrossed in the veterinary college of Nantes to a ram delivered a stillborn and a living male offspring with 54 chromosomes.

    In California Valley, a geep was born in 2011. It birthed several hybrid babies over a 3 year period, until 2014 when it began to have miscarriages. The geep was then slaughtered for meat because geep meat has its own unique taste compared to sheep or goat meat. The geep and its offspring were the only known examples in California.

    On May 12, 2011, a healthy and fertile geep was born in Bant, Flevoland, the Netherlands. The geep mated with a ewe and on December 25, 2012 two healthy lambs were born.

    So we again have some of Haldane’s Rule showing up in that first male, it is the variable chromosome numbers that interests me. With some work you could get to a stable cross with stable chromosome count. While mostly this list shows fertile females back crossing with original males, that last one has a fertile male.

    There are stories of folks making stable herds of these in the past.

    […] the following statement of Mr. Low: “It has been long known to shepherds, though questioned by naturalists, that the progeny of the cross between the sheep and goat is fertile. Breeds of this mixed race are numerous in the north of Europe.” Nothing appears to be known of such hybrids either in Scandinavia or in Italy; but Professor Giglioli of Florence has kindly given me some useful references to works in which they are described. The following extract from his letter is very interesting: “I need not tell you that there being such hybrids is now generally accepted as a fact. Buffon (Supplements, tom. iii. p. 7, 1756) obtained one such hybrid in 1751 and eight in 1752. Sanson (La Culture, vol. vi. p. 372, 1865) mentions a case observed in the Vosges, France. Geoff. St. Hilaire (Hist. Nat. Gén. des reg. org., vol. iii. p. 163) was the first to mention, I believe, that in different parts of South America the ram is more usually crossed with the she-goat than the sheep with the he-goat. The well-known ‘pellones’ of Chile are produced by the second and third generation of such hybrids (Gay, ‘Hist, de Chile,’ vol. i. p. 466, Agriculture, 1862). Hybrids bred from goat and sheep are called ‘chabin’ in French, and ‘cabruno’ in Spanish. In Chile such hybrids are called ‘carneros lanudos’; their breeding inter se appears to be not always successful, and often the original cross has to be recommenced to obtain the proportion of three-eighths of he-goat and five-eighths of sheep, or of three-eighths of ram and five-eighths of she-goat; such being the reputed best hybrids.”

    At this point I’m starting to indulge my own fascination with fertile inter-species hybrids a bit too much and going on too long; but it is very clear that this is not a particularly hard thing to do for many species sets.

    Oh, just one more… Polar bears and Brown Bears ( Kodiak / Grizzly) are known to hybridize and at least one was shot in the wild. There have also been wild whale hybrids observed. One of the more intractable problems in fish management is different “species”, when one is introduced into the range of another related but different species, often make fertile hybrids and that makes it hard to keep the original native species ‘pure’. Rainbow trout were widely planted prior to realizing this and all sorts of unique local species are now hybrids, as an example.

    It’s really not all that difficult to make new species this way…

  4. Gary says:

    Those of us who studied plant taxonomy in undergraduate days encountered two statements concerning speciation:

    1. A genus is a thing. A species is a kind of a thing.
    2. Nature mocks at human categories.

    In other words, don’t to make too big a deal about classification, even if it was hugely important to the research. You could put too fine a point on the argument so it never could be settled. Many plant genera show gradations between species and it often was a best guess when trying to key out a specimen to the descriptions and drawings in our manuals. Those were times before DNA analysis aided cladistic analyses. Even now the professionals divide into “lumpers” and “splitters” depending on how strict they interpret the definition of species.

    Hybridization must involve successfully merging the genetic controls of mitotic cell division that may differ in the two parents. Somehow they must be compatible or one dominate over the other when it comes to producing the component organelles and the timing in cell division. For a hybrid to reproduce this must extend even farther to the meiotic production of viable gametes. Plants, as you say, have less trouble with the complexity than animals.

  5. p.g.sharrow says:

    It would appear that Creation is an ongoing project! We are being Blessed by the GOD of Carbon and Life. ;-) pg

  6. Power Grab says:

    Regarding the crossing of species: Since the coloration of Braunvieh cattle is very much like that of deer, and Braunvieh were developed during the LIA by monks in Switzerland, now I wonder how they did that. Braunvieh are known for being willing to eat just about anything (including bark off trees, like deer). I’m wondering if the coloration came about because they were living in the territory where deer are native, or did they get their coloration because they crossed cattle with deer.

  7. Power Grab says:

    Regarding wheat and gluten and the problems some have with it: Since modern wheat is bred to be shorter (so the stormy weather is less likely to knock it down before harvest) and higher in protein…I had wondered if the fact that it’s closer to the ground made it more likely to harbor fungi than taller breeds. It seems to me that symptoms of gluten-intolerance overlap a lot with those of fungal overgrowth.

    However, I learned last year that it’s not uncommon for Roundup (Glyphosate) to be used to kill wheat days before harvest. It is taken up systemically into the entire plant, so you can’t get rid of it by removing the bran, etc. Since Glyphosate was originally patented as an antibiotic and chelator, and its use causes fungi to thrive, now I’m thinking that’s part of the reason why wheat treated with it causes digestive issues for so many people.

    I have more to say about this, but I have to go run an errand.

  8. p.g.sharrow says:

    Power Grab says:
    19 February 2015 at 6:03 pm “Braunvieh were developed during the LIA by monks in Switzerland,”

    I am not sure about the name “Braunvieh” but there is a swiss cattle breed we call “Brown Swiss” here in the U.S. They were a multi use breed that are very good milkers as well as being a large meat breed that used to serve as a strong draft breed. These are a human friendly breed, a real pleasure to work with. They have the ability to do well on low quality feed and also have the ability to sweat all over their bodies. European cattle can not sweat except on their muzzles.

    It is said that these Swiss cattle originated with Brahman cattle brought back by solders from Alexander the Great’s campaign in India. They were kept in the lower level of of the houses of their keepers during the winter snows to help with the heating of the upper level as well as convenience for feeding and milking. Believe me! that is not something you would want to do with an European breed. pg

  9. DonM says:

    The most playful, cuddliest cat I have been around was a domestic/bobcat mix.

    Its claws and teeth stayed needle sharp throughout its short (10 years) life, and it was kittenishly playful throughout its entire life. It had a bobtail and bobcat colorings. It was also a bit undersized, even for a domestic cat (about 6 pounds). Its siblings didn’t make it very long.

    If I had the time/means I would try to make some more … even though it would mean potentially sad outcomes.

    With respect to red wolves … I haven’t seen ’em. I have seen 65 lb coyotes that have no business being that big (if someone called them a red wolf I wouldn’t argue). Also, seems that the bigger they are the less they yap, or respond to yapping.

    Wolves, dogs, and coyotes, are pretty close, back in the 1990’s reports said indistinguishable, through genetic analysis. Recent reports say “The domestic dog is an extremely close relative of the gray wolf, differing from it by at most 0.2% of mtDNA sequence. In comparison, the gray wolf differs from its closest wild relative, the coyote, by about 4% of mitochondrial DNA sequence.”

    They are pretty much the same thing, the comparison being that “A wild wolf is genetically little more distant from the domesticated dog than a wild mustang is to a quarter horse”. So, the only reason that they wouldn’t “inter”breed is cultural bias/separation; and female (dogs) in heat don’t display much bias; males (anytime or species) don’t show a lot of bias.

    If I am 3.5% Neanderthal, does that mean that I am as different from an African (no Neanderthal) as a Wolf is to a Coyote? So, Coyote and Wolf are pretty much the same thing….

  10. Graeme No.3 says:

    Re Bonobos and orang utans; wouldn’t there be some problem with access? Different continents for a start, or are you suggesting that a proto-urangutan had a date with a proto-bonobo, a few million years ago?

  11. p.g.sharrow says:

    @Graeme; More likely some traveling “humans” were not so picky. ;-0 pg

  12. E.M.Smith says:


    A quick search showed some assertions that deer x cow is possible.
    http://www.macroevolution.net/deer-cow-hybrids.html#.VOeAy033-iw for example.

    I’d have to also mention “Beefalo” as a stable cross in commercial production made via a Bison x cow cross. So there does seem to be some ‘flexibility’ in cattle…


    seems to indicate a large flexibility in deer, with all sorts of deer x elk x whatever crosses…

    @Graeme No.3:

    The present distribution of species of great apes is far different from what it was a few million years ago. In that distant time, proto-chips and proto-orangutan species were nearer to each other and to that part of Africa where humans are asserted to have originated…
    finds an Orangutan fossil in Thailand so they were off of the islands…
    finds Orangutans more closely related to humans than are chimps on a physical basis.

    (I’d also add that the Chimp penis is very different from the human and orangutan, which both have a glans… also Chimps are ‘doggy style’ while Orangs are “whatever works” with front to front mating included, rather like humans…)


    asserts Orangutans originated in an Asian forest environment in apes migrated from Africa. I’d just assert that ‘for a while’ you would have both Orangutans and Apes ‘mingling’ around there, and at some point that can end in a hominid… that could migrate in any direction, or even in a hybrid that might wander back to the Levant or West Africa, and their finish the change to a hominid.

    is believed that the orangutan originated about 14 million years ago, in the middle of the Miocene epoch of the Cenozoic Era, in a forest in Asia. The two species that we know today in the genus Pongo live in Asia.(2)

    The earliest primates date back to 70 million years ago. The greater apes, which include orangutans as well as gorillas, chimpanzees, and humans split off from the lesser apes (gibbons) about 20 million years ago.(1)

    Interestingly, the fossil evidence suggests that there were three major migratory events that occurred during the evolution of the great apes. The first migratory event is thought to have taken place in the late Miocene epoch. It is thought that the ancient ancestors to the modern great apes migrated from Africa into Asia (about 20 million years ago!). Many ancient fossils have since been found in Asia, including Ramapithecus, Ouranopithecus and Dryopithecus. After a great time period, it is estimated that there was a split in the population of great ape ancestors and some migrated from Asia back into Africa, where they since branched and evolved into the modern day chimpanzees, gorillas, and yes, humans. This migratory event was thought to have occurred around 10 million years ago. The lineage that remained in Asia led to the generation of the Orangutan lineages. A third migratory event, then later occurred in Africa (about 100 to 200 thousand years ago, when Homo erectus migrated out of Africa and founded the seeds for the modern day human populations. This is known as the “in and out” of Africa hypothesis. If this scenario did not occur, and our ancestors were truly in Africa the whole time, this would require six different migratory events to have occurred to establish the current populations of apes within Asia, including the following:

    So a large number of old ape types were migrating back and forth between Africa and Asia, and sometime / somewhere along the way “things happen”, then humans show up in Africa… Modulo that we don’t know where Denisovans were hanging out (or their precursors) much of the time, nor do we really have a complete fossil record (nor, for Chimps and Gorillas, much of any record) so it’s a whole lot of guesswork and not much real data at all…

    But now my ‘pending’ Chimp / Orang posting is ending up scattered in comments here… Oh well…

    @P.G. Sharrow:

    There were no ‘humans’ prior to the cross. My assertion is that the “humans” arose as a cross between a proto-bonobo like species and a proto-orangutan like species during those migrations between Africa and Asia. In the end, the resulting more modern Orangs end up in Asia only, and the resulting more modern Chimps, Bonobos, and Gorillas, along with some ‘hanger on’ hybrid very early proto-humans end up back in Africa. Then we evolved for a few million years and migrate out of Africa (again…)

    All it takes is for a small number of Orangutans to head back to Africa with the larger numbers of Bonobo’s / Chimps and “getting friendly” along the way. The small number of Orangutans end up “blending in” and the result is that only the hybrid arrives in Africa… along with a lot of chimps, gorillas, bonobos… It fits all the known facts.

  13. Power Grab says:

    @ P.G.Sharrow: Yes, “Brown Swiss” is another name for them. The characteristics you list are the same ones I’ve heard about.

    They will butt you down if you are too slow in providing their feed, though!

  14. p.g.sharrow says:

    @ power grab; AH yes wonderful cows! 40F below or 100F above. all the same to them. I cared for and milked them on my folks farm for 10 years. Grayish to tan colored with a thatch of red hair over the poll or base ridge of the horns on top of their heads. For some reason their milk is naturally homogenized, that is the cream fats tend to stay in suspension with the milk solids and not gravity separate like other cow’s milk. The Brown Swiss were much sought after by those in tropical countries as a dairy breed that could make milk on poor tropical grasses and in tropical heat. pg

  15. Graeme No.3 says:

    Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, while chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans have 24. The human chromosome 2 is a fusion of two chromosomes 2a and 2b that remained separate in the other primates.

    analysis indicates that modern humans, Neanderthals, and the Denisova hominin last shared a common ancestor around 1 million years ago.
    ~ 804,000 years ago divergence of african & Neanderthal/Denisovan
    ~ 640,000 years ago divergence of Neanderthal & Denisovan
    Maximum 290,000 years ago modern humans – now showing signs of interbreeding with Neanderthals and Denisovans
    DNA discovered in Spain suggests that Denisovans at some point resided in Western Europe, where Neanderthals were thought to be the only inhabitants. A comparison with the genome of a Neanderthal from the same cave revealed significant local interbreeding, with local Neanderthal DNA representing 17% of the Denisovan genome, while evidence was also detected of interbreeding with an as yet unidentified ancient human lineage. Neanderthal and humans interbred in ME? Certainly some Neanderthal DNA in those of ‘european’ ancestory but not ‘african’ origin.
    ~ 41,000 years ago Denis Cave with remains of all 3 groups (Asia)
    ~ 11 to 14,000 years ago Red Deer Cave people
    Crossing the Wallace Line
    240 metres minimum depth, 20 km. minimum width, so requiring something more than paddling a log across.
    about 3% to 5% of the DNA of Melanesians and Aboriginal Australians deriving from Denisovans. Also papuan and smaller scattered negrito groups of people in Southeast Asia,
    ~60,000 years ago gracile Lake Mungo (Australia)
    ~ 40,000 years ago robust Lake Mungo (Australia)
    ?? modern aborigines (different again)
    ~ 13,000 years ago H. floresiensis (H. erectus ???)
    ~ 10,000 years ago KOW Swamp (Australia) robust and different – Red Deer Cave people ?
    Some theories based on the skeletal record have proposed that the first humans in Australia were the “negrito” Tasmanian people **, who were displaced by “Murrayans” ***, who were in turn displaced by “Carpentarians” (including the Western Desert People).
    Academics have proposed that the theories are racist and that there was only one migration
    ( Latest Sports report – randy humans 3, Academicals 0 )
    ** remnants retreated to forested areas, e.g. SW WA, Tasmania and the rain forested coast of Qld. Hence observed differences with Tasmanians in stature and colour and 19th Century reports of “pigmies” in Qld. forest (no longer politically correct to say these).
    *** into mountainous areas but also along the Murray Darling river system.

    Orangs are front to front mating included, rather like humans…) and kangaroos?
    Chimp penis does not have a glans – Plastic surgery perhaps ??

    It is getting far too complicated for me to work out. Given that I have Norwegian, Scottish, Irish, English, German and Portuguese ancestry, I don’t need orang utan as well).

  16. p.g.sharrow says:

    A “species” is specialized into an environmental niche. As It becomes better suited or specialized to that niche, is less likely to breed to other lines that are pushed out. Modern humans have specialized in adaptability to all conditions by manipulation of the environment with “tools”. Modern Primate species are specialists in their modern environmental niche and therefor not an unchanging line from it’s origin.
    All species originated in mix and match breeding that resulted in stronger fitting to that particular niche survival needs. Hybrid vigor from the crossing of two outlines often results in a stronger line that might better out compete all the others in that niche. Once a species becomes strongly specialize to fit a particulate niche they are doomed to extinction when that safe niche disappears.
    We should not conceptualize that there were old pure lines that contribute to modern humans. The present lines have become pure due to reduced in-crossings and time breeding out unnecessary genotypes. We share genes with other lines from the genes origin. pg

  17. p.g.sharrow says:

    @EMSmith; It is possible that “humans” did not originate in Africa. That old conclusion may be as wrong as, a god created Adam and Eve as the first humans in Paradise Valley somewhere in the Middle East. Modern Humans may well be an ongoing creation that covers all the Earth with contributions from many niche specialists of the primate lines.
    At least that would be the way I would do it if I was the “Herd” manager that wanted to create a species that could adapt to off planet existence. ;-) pg

  18. E.M.Smith says:


    IMHO, it’s sort of a given that whatever ‘scenarios’ are fit to the data, the data are insufficient to know for sure what really happened. There’s a lot of “issues”, not the least of which is the sparse availability of fossils, that they are only preserved in certain types of habitats and conditions ( i.e. biologically active tropical forest and swamp are less prone to leaving meat and bones around for a few years to be covered with preserving sediments) and the sample rate is way too low to even mention Nyquist… They you run into the Out Of Place Artifacts… and for my money it’s a fun game to play, but we have a deep history that will always be mysterious (unless some friendly Space Aliens have been recording it all for a few hundred thousand years and decide to share our family album with us…)

    At a minimum we have a couple of ‘out and back’ of the old primates from Africa to / from Asia. Then we have a few million years of mystery, followed by a period with 3 known human ‘species’ for about a million years ( Denisovan, Neaderthal, proto-Modern, and who knows what else) that are undoubtedly “sharing around the edges” of their turf, if not more. The fantasy pushed is that these folks were only primitive wild men, half a step above the wolf, and only in the last 5 ky has anything approaching modern ability developed. I assert that’s a pile of steaming bull poo.

    Neanderthal had a bigger brain that moderns. Densovans likely too (being related). These folks undoubtely had language of high order and ‘skilz’ at a whole lot of things. Did any of them build cities? No way to know. Between glacial advances (several) during that time, along with oceans now covering about 300 to 400 feet of old shoreline (and all the places where boats and fishing and fishing villages and trade centers would form) the odds of anything surviving is quite low. Now if someone DID find a fragment of an old pot or a fishhook or chipped stone knife, would anyone dare to say it was not from this cycle and assert an earlier one?… Not to mention that most all wood, mud brick, unfired clay, bone, hides, etc. etc. would all be long broken down to bits and dust. But the idea they just lived in caves in small groups grunting and hunting (usually shown as ineptly too) is just daft.

    Now I’d be modestly happy with a nice TeePee, a couple of cooking clays, a knife or two, and a bow & arrow. Oh, and a skin / fur blanket too. Beyond that, I really don’t see a “need”, just a “want”. (Well, maybe a skin sack for fermenting seeds / wort ;-) So maybe I’d not feel the need to make books or design horseshoes were I living then either… (My Celtic ancestors knew how to write, but thought it better to just remember everything – thus the Druids and Bards – as books are heavy and prone to loss, rot, and worse. We have an existence proof that not writing much is compatible with both a high culture and lots of linguistic skill.) We also have ‘oral tradition’ of things that have now been shown to be accurate over spans of many thousands of years.

    This means that for my money, there was likely a thriving vibrant culture with hunting, fishing, trading, making needed goods, and a lot of party and story telling time. Probably for hundreds of thousands of years.

    “Modern Civilization” is largely the history of ceramics and metals with organized warfare, the oppression of the many by the few, and the building of monuments to the oppressors. I’m not seeing how that was an improvement, nor how the lack of monuments to oppressors and metal swords / shields indicates a lesser society or culture… Oh Well…

    So “where did humans originate”? IMHO they originated at least 3 times, in both Africa and Asia; with the first ‘mix’ being on the trail between them with a few male Orangutans (thus a Y chromosome that codes for a penis with glans) and some female Bonobo (in both cases the 6 Mya proto-types) and some backcrossing. That proto-human spread out to Europe and that one then split and some went over to Asia. The three “races” today representing the three origin sets. The modern “out of Africa” body type (with larger larynx, better throwing ability, longer legs for running, and such) as African blacks. The Neanderthal component blended in preserving things like white (snow adapted) skin and red / blond / light brown hair; also shorter legs that lose less heat in snow, large lungs for floating when tossed from boats, poorer throwing and jumping ability (as the bones and muscles are wrong for that) but better grappling and gripping. Then the Denisovan having similar brain size and tooth sized, but smaller faster more graceful body build, the ‘almond eye’ shape, flatter warm climate nose, and fast reflexes; though not as fast a runner as the African type, nor as able to run moderately for hours as the Neanderthal type. Now blend that last three over a couple of hundred thousand years as people moved about, and you get the races and mixes of today… Where whites have a better top tenor from that small Neaderthal larynx, but for a really deep base you need a black male on base; but for fast fingering on strings, an Asian woman on violin is astounding. Together we make a heck of an orchestra and choir…

    And “we” originated in Africa, Asia, in between, and off in Europe, and in a hundred and one mixes everywhere in between.

    Oh, and I’d point out that The Levant is one of the places where Cro Magnon and Neanderthal had overlapping territories for a very long time with bones of each in the same caves. The ‘creation’ stories that place us in The Levant can also be right, with the same mixing. (Suddenly you have the faster African brain speed with the greater deep thinking of the slower larger Neanderthal brain, and in a larger combined frame with speed, strength, AND precise movements. The Modern hybrid showing that vigor that hybrids have, then takes over the world; and the present races reflecting only a little of the original types as they blended into the new mix in different ratios). The Neanderthal had a larger nose and wider set eyes, a heavier facial bone layout, and European type frame. Just what is seen in Jews from the Levant (and their cousins in Arab lands). So that Levant type is just, IMHO, a variation on the general European layout of a Cro Magnon / Neanderthal cross. Exactly where the cross that leads to us, now, happened could be any of them…

    @Graeme No3.:

    Hopefully that also helps with your wondering where what happened too ;-)

    BTW, I’d assert that they hybridizing / improving is still going on today. Look at the nature of American Blacks. Compare them to historical African blacks. Compare them to historical Europeans. Clearly a lot of them are hybrids of the two, and show some spectacular increase in ability over both. (Anyone who can look at Lena Horn, and Halle Berry and not see some clear advantages, and some clear similarities between them, is 1/2 blind. Similarly, the size and muscle bulk of NFL blacks is clearly reflecting some of that Neanderthal upper body and barrel chested build.)

    Obligatory Disclaimer:

    Anyone wanting to paint any of this as some kind of “racist” is daft. It is just recognizing reality. I have offspring of a couple of racial types. My son is married to a lady with a ‘mixed’ ancestry of some sort (no, I’m not going to speculate) and her brother can move like the wind, is big, fast, and very good looking. (I’m hoping some of that makes it to the grandkids ;-) Mixes work. Praising them is not bad. Heck, I’m a “mix” of what was once a discriminated type ( “Irishmen have tails” anyone?…) with the oppressor type ( English / Germanic). Blacks have longer legs and more prominent butts, that means they can sprint faster and jump better. The typical European type has a longer trunk, short legs, and flatter butt. That means they can do long distance running better (where more lungs matters), can’t jump, but can swim and float at sea a long time and is less likely to break a leg on skis. Neither is better; but ignoring that is daft (and anyone who is making a basketball team knows it, just like anyone making a swim team or snow skiing / hockey team). Yes, especially with mixes, those stereotype builds are showing up in the other races; that was the point about NFL players… FWIW, for several years my Doctor was a very nice Black Lady. Knew her stuff, was personable, and was without ego problems (unlike most white guy doctors I’ve had); was willing to say “hang on a minute, I need to go look something up” and grab a big reference book. I was sad when she retired… So I’ve no problem with blacks as ‘smart’ or authorities, and that they can do a jump ball better has no bearing on how well they can diagnose illnesses nor treat them.

    (I really do look forward to the day when such obligatory disclaimers can be dumped. It’s tedious and a waste of time; but does act to keep the character assassination crowed reduced and focused elsewhere.)

  19. JT says:


    You’ll love this. The author describes himself as “I am a UGA-trained geneticist (M.S., Ph.D.) who worked in various genetics laboratories at the University of Georgia and conducted research there from 1989 to 2007 (see my Google+ profile). During those years I also taught biology and genetics at UGA.” His theory is the humans are descended from a hybrid of a chimpanzee or bonobo and a pig.

  20. E.M.Smith says:


    Oh Dear:


    A University of Illinois side-by-side comparison of the human and pig genomes has revealed remarkable similarities.

    “We took the human genome, cut it into 173 puzzle pieces and rearranged it to make a pig,” explains animal geneticist Lawrence Schook. “Everything matches up perfectly. The pig is genetically very close to humans.”

    When looking at a pig or a human, the difference is seen instantly. “But, in the biological sense, animals aren’t that much different from one another – at least not as different as they appear,” he says.

    That could explain a lot about human behavior…

    Which came first, the human or the pig…

    But this cladogram puts it rather a long ways away from Primates (that are not on this list at all):

    First you must unify pigs with dogs, deer, whales, and more then that branch can unify with the precoursor of primates (with that clad unifying things as diverse as bats and primates with rodents and rabbits…

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_mammals about 1/2 way down.

    While I’m of the opinion that more hybrids can happen than are generally recognized, it looks to me like that’s a few dozen genera too far a leap for crossing.

    IMHO what the author is really saying is that much of our genetic parts are the same, but in a dramatically different order / package. And that is true. The bulk of all genetics is for things like making dentin, bone, running the Krebs Cycle, making hair. Those don’t need to change much from species to species so get conserved, and repeatedly shuffled. Very little of the genetic package really mutates from species to species. But that doesn’t mean granny was a pig… only that pig DNA for keratin will be like human DNA for keratin.

    Then again, he makes a decent case… but I’m skeptical until there is more than “a good story” to support it. For example, I could see a simple case where a minor primate continues some of those traits from when the prior ancestors of pigs and primates shared a line. It was part of the later primate / primate hybrid leading to humans, but we don’t find it in the fossil record as it lived in placed that are not conducive to making fossils. That seems more likely to me “as a story”, than a pig / primate cross. I’d also have to ask: Where are our hooves and curly tails? if such a hybrid happened…

    So “fun to read” but…

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