Scientists have figured out why there are so many black wolves in America

(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists from the University of Oxford have found that outbreaks of canine distemper in North American wolves contribute to the spread of black wolves.

Black wolves are a rarity throughout the world, but in the south of North America they are quite common in certain areas.

Coat color in wolves (Canis lupus) is determined by the CPD103 gene. Depending on the variant of this gene, the color can be black or gray.

The researchers hypothesized that this gene also plays a role in protection against respiratory diseases such as canine distemper virus. In this case, black wolves would more often survive the infection.

Scientists studied 12 wolf populations and found that wolves with antibodies to the plague are more often black than gray, that is, black individuals were infected with the plague, but survived it.

They also found that black wolves were more common in areas where outbreaks were occurring.

The authors noted that the gene for protection against plague was obtained by wolves from domestic dogs brought by the first people who arrived in North America, and the plague virus itself appeared in North America many thousands of years later – and again from dogs from across the sea.

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