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  1. #1
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    Default Can a new species emerge?

    Can a new species emerge in today's age, not (a) showing itself for the first time, but (b) coming into existence for the first time, branching off an older species, and how long would it take?

    I'm asking this out of fear. My cat and dog have been getting awfully close.

  2. #2
    The High Priestess Amargith's Avatar
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    Unlikely. Their spawn would be sterile if at all viable. Just let them have fun.
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  3. #3
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lemons
    I'm asking this out of fear. My cat and dog have been getting awfully close.


    In the interest of answering this question seriously....

    I think in a short time frame - i.e. years or decades - the notion of a Species, and what constitutes it, can be hazy indeed.

    One of my interests is birding - and taxonomists seem to go back and forth between creating more subspecies, and then eventually splitting subspecies off into brand new species, vs. those on the other side of the fence lumping subspecies together into one. I think this is just what happens on such a small time scale. Fuzziness. And, disagreement on the very definition/notion of what a species is. But it's interesting to consider that subspecies could be the start of a branch of what would eventually become a new species --- after a long period of time.

    I mean, even on a large time scale, evolution can be kind of fuzzy -- just a constant progression. I think it's when you have geographic isolation that it can be more obvious.

    New species emerging in our lifespan? Would have to be a lifeform with a really, really short lifespan - minutes, maybe. Bacterium, insects, or the like.
    "...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce

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  4. #4
    Fe, rusted. Poser's Avatar
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    I think that this would be a good time to reinforce my commitment to rid the world of Manbearpig.


  5. #5
    4x9 cascadeco's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BryNTP View Post
    I think that this would be a good time to reinforce my commitment to rid the world of Manbearpig.
    Manbearpig is indeed a threat to the stability of our society.
    "...On and on and on and on he strode, far out over the sands, singing wildly to the sea, crying to greet the advent of the life that had cried to him." - James Joyce

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  6. #6
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    One useful metric in the defining of a species is cross-fertility. If two individual animals cannot produce offspring due to genetic incompatibility, then it's safe to say that they are not the same species. If they can produce offspring but the offspring are not fertile, the result is a "mule," and again the parents are not the same species. However, if the two animals can breed and produce fertile offspring, they are the same species.

    Taxonomists may quibble over this definition and they're welcome to, for taxonomic definitions of speciation serve their own purposes and don't really apply to this particular question.

    I would say then, that if you can successfully breed two healthy individual animals from a common ancestor and the two individual animals are not cross-fertile, but they are both fertile with other genetically compatible individuals, it's safe to say that you have observed the emergence of a new species.

    Has this been observed experimentally? Not to my knowledge.

    Could it be? Hard to say. It deserves investigation.

  7. #7
    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    Can a Chihuahua and a St Bernard make puppies?

  8. #8
    Oberon
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quinlan View Post
    Can a Chihuahua and a St Bernard make puppies?
    Yes. You can artificially inseminate a St. Bernard female with Chihuahua sperm and get puppies.

    The proposition wasn't one of taxonomic differences, but of genetic compatibility. Which you already knew.

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    Intriguing.... Quinlan's Avatar
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    I wonder what those puppies would look like.

  10. #10
    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by lemons View Post
    I'm asking this out of fear. My cat and dog have been getting awfully close.
    Do not fear. Dogs often attempt to produce offspring with everything, including lampposts, couches, and hot water tanks. Put away your Darwin books, and go get a pot of cold water instead.

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