Photo Jim Armstrong ©
These two black coyotes were photographed on a Wildlife Management Area in Florida.
Black coyotes are uncommon everywhere and hardly ever seen in Florida—hunters occasionally post photos of dead animals, but photos of live black coyotes are extremely rare.
A recent study at Stanford University on the genetics of melanism (black color morph) in wolves, coyotes and dogs, shows that the genetic mutation for melanism first arose in dogs some 50,000 years ago and was subsequently passed to wolves and coyotes.
The mutation is believed to serve some positive adaptive purpose—no one knows exactly what the positive purpose is, but the protein beta-defensin 3, which regulates melanism in canids is involved in providing immunity to viral and bacterial skin infections.
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