Sat. Feb 27th, 2021

An analysis of the DNA of three wild dogs living above 4,300 meters (14,000 feet) on the island of New Guinea matches that of captive New Guinea singing dogs. These findings show that the New Guinea singing dog is not extinct in the wild, as most zoologists had assumed, researchers reported recently in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. New Guinea singing dogs are best known for their haunting and unique vocalizations, which sound like a cross between a wolf’s howl and whale song. The dogs are not listed as threatened by the IUCN, as the organization considers them to be a breed of domestic dog (Canis familiaris). The authors of the paper argue that these dogs are genetically and behaviorally distinct from their domestic cousins. “They are a kind of proto-domestic dog,” said study co-author James McIntyre. “[They have] remained frozen in time.” Wildlife biologists had thought that New Guinea singing dogs went extinct in the wild sometime in the 1970s.  A couple hundred of the animals linger on in zoos and as exotic pets. But the entire captive population has expanded from just eight original dogs, so the descendants are highly inbred. Without genetic diversity, these remnant dogs risk becoming infertile. New Guinea singing dogs are best known for their unique howl. The researchers hope that their findings will push governments and organizations to protect wild dogs. Photo credit: James McIntyre But in 2012, an ecotourist guide snapped a picture of what appeared to be a…This article was originally published on Mongabay

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