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For a hybrid to become a full-blown new species, it requires a distinct niche where it can evolve separately from its two parent species. For the Lonicera fly, the alien honeysuckle plant provided that niche.
As a result, the fly provides the first evidence that two different animal species can interbreed and evolve into a new, distinct animal if their hybrid moves to a new habitat, the study suggests.
George Turner is a professor of evolutionary biology and biodiversity at the University of Hull in England. He agrees that animal evolution through hybridization may be much more widespread than previously believed.
As DNA analysis of different species becomes more sophisticated and extensive, he expects other examples to emerge.
"I think this kind of speciation is most likely in animals were there are lots of similar, fast-evolving species, such as in certain types of insects and fish," he added.