Coyotes are now spread everywhere around North America, but the truth is nobody actually knows where they came from. This is why a team of researchers from North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences have decided to solve their mystery. By looking at a series of fossils and other museum exhibits, they were finally able to reconstruct the lost history of the animals.
Coyotes are now an important part of the North American continent
Since the beginning of the 20th century, most mammals suffered serious declines in their populations both in North America and in the entire world. However, this wasn’t the case for coyotes, as they suddenly spread all over the continent. When it comes to this expansion, there’s plenty of information on the distribution of these creatures at a local level. However, it wasn’t as easy when you looked at the whole continent.
For this study, researchers started right at the beginning. Based on the fossil evidence they had, they reconstructed the genetic material coming from the original set of coyotes in the world. Afterwards, they reviewed all the archaeological evidence they had, covering a period from 1900 to 2016.
These creatures have actually spread over a much larger surface
This way, they ended up with data from 12,500 exhibits which spread over a period of 10,000 years. In the end, they obtained some really interesting findings. It turns out the first coyotes actually spread over a much larger region in North America. Initially, researchers thought they only populated deserts areas, but the fossil evidence says otherwise.
In 1920, however, coyotes started gaining supremacy over the North American territories and expanded beyond what this fossil evidence was showing. Most probably, the phenomenon came as a result of land fragmentation. However, the expanse of farming and the spread of other species played an important role, too. As time passes, these creatures are expanding these territories even more.
These observations paint a better picture of their evolution as predators and the role they played in the North American ecosystem. Also, researchers could combat the false knowledge that revolved around coyotes and build accurate maps of their expansions. The study on these creatures was published in the journal ZooKeys.
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