Interpreting the Results
The measurements indicated that
both jaws belonged to the same species of coyote. Are you surprised that they
were judged to be from the same species even though there were differences in
some of the measurements? There is a logical answer: The paleontologists, like
the anatomists, takes into consideration the fact that variations do occur among
members of one species. Skeletal dimensions vary even among members of the same
It was concluded, then, that the
second coyote jaw found at Irvington (the paratype) belonged to the same species
as the first (the holotype). But one question was yet to be answered: Did these
jaws belong to a species never before discovered? This brings us back to the
comparison of the first jaw with the ones already identified.
Savage compared the Irvington jaw
with 30 jaw specimens of Canis latrans ochropus, a coyote of the
Recent epoch from San Mateo and Santa Clara counties; with 9 jaws of Recent jaws
of Canis latrans estor from California and Nevada; and with 30 jaws of
the late Pleistocene coyote Canis latrans ochropus from Rancho la Brea.
When this work was finished, there was little reason to doubt that a new species
had been discovered. The next task was to give it a name.