How to Tell Whether Two Animals can Produce Offspring?

Aug 2016
977
US&A
I recently caught a mouse I believe is a white-footed mouse or Peromyscus leucopus. It is almost identical to the deer mouse or Peromyscus Maniculatus. Mice are social animals and I am considering catching another so that it can have some company.
I am not very familiar with scientific classifications of animals. Can you tell from the scientific names whether mice of these two species/subspecies can produce viable offspring together? Can you tell whether they are distinct species or related subspecies?
 
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stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,558
Las Vegas, NV USA
Recent discoveries have shown the concept of a species, while useful, is not a fact of nature. Neanderthals and "modern humans" are still considered distinct species by classification, but we now know they interbred. If you can tell male from female, why not just put them together and see what happens? If they breed, it makes it less likely they are different species, but you would need to identify the actual genus and species of both to be sure.
 
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Apr 2017
1,654
U.S.A.
The first name in a creature's scientific name is the genus, the second name is the species, if there is a third name it is the subspecies. (in humans its Homo Sapien Sapien)
Species and genus aren't necessarily rules for breeding. A good example is that cattle can reproduce with American bison, despite being a different genus but are still in the same family. However foxes are in the same family as dogs but they can't reproduce (not that's proven anyway). Additionally dogs and wolfs are the same genus and can reproduce. Zebras, donkeys and horses are all the same genus but if they breed the offspring are usually infertile.
So, pretty much same genus breeding isn't a rule.
 

Edgewaters

Ad Honorem
Jul 2007
9,098
Canada
Coyotes and wolves can produce fertile offspring. I think the line should be drawn on clear differences in things like bone structure, muscle and organ features, different susceptibility to diseases, etc. Not breeding, because there are many species that are clearly different but can still produce fertile offspring.
 
Nov 2017
69
New Jersey, USA
I recently caught a mouse I believe is a white-footed mouse or Peromyscus leucopus. It is almost identical to the deer mouse or Peromyscus Maniculatus. Mice are social animals and I am considering catching another so that it can have some company.
I am not very familiar with scientific classifications of animals. Can you tell from the scientific names whether mice of these two species/subspecies can produce viable offspring together? Can you tell whether they are distinct species or related subspecies?
Conventionally species are groups defined by their ability to produce fertile offspring. So, to answer your question, yes organisms belonging to the same species can typically produce offspring.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
3,558
Las Vegas, NV USA
Coyotes and wolves can produce fertile offspring. I think the line should be drawn on clear differences in things like bone structure, muscle and organ features, different susceptibility to diseases, etc. Not breeding, because there are many species that are clearly different but can still produce fertile offspring.
Yes. Anatomical features are the basis for biological classification. It so happens that reproductive compatibility is related, but not strictly determined by this classification scheme. Therefore you could expect some cross breeding of species.