Canis lupus dingo

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Canis lupus dingo
Dingo on the road.jpg
Australian dingo
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Canis
Species: Canis lupus
Subspecies: C. lupus dingo[2][3]
Trinomial name
Canis lupus dingo
(Meyer, 1793)

Canis dingo (Meyer, 1793), antarticus (Kerr, 1792) [suppressed, ICZN O.451], Canis australasiae (Desmarest, 1820), Canis australiae (Gray, 1826), Canis dingoides (Matschie, 1915), Canis macdonnellensis (Matschie, 1915), Canis novaehollandiae (Voigt, 1831), Canis papuensis (Ramsay, 1879), Canis tenggerana (Kohlbrugge, 1896), Canis hallstromi (Troughton, 1957), Canis harappensis (Prashad, 1936)

The taxon Canis lupus dingo includes the Australian dingo and the New Guinea singing dog. The genetic evidence indicates that the subspecies originated from East Asian domestic dogs and was introduced through the South-East Asian archipelago into Australia,[4][5] with a common ancestry between the Australian dingo and the New Guinea Singing Dog.[5][6]


In 1758, the taxonomist Linaeus published in Systema Naturae a categorization of species which included the Canis species. Canis is a Latin word meaning dog.[7] In 1978, a review aimed at reducing the number of recognized Canis species proposed that "Canis dingo is now generally regarded as a distinctive feral domestic dog. Canis familiaris is used for domestic dogs, although taxonomically it should probably be synonymous with Canis lupus."[8] In 1982, the first edition of Mammal Species of the World listed Canis familiaris under Canis lupus with the comment: "Probably ancestor of and conspecific with the domestic dog, familiaris. Canis familiaris has page priority over Canis lupus, but both were published simultaneously in Linnaeus (1758), and Canis lupus has been universally used for this species",[9] which avoided classifying the wolf as the family dog. The dingo was then regarded as a domestic dog.

In 2003, the ICZN ruled in its Opinion 2027 that if wild animals and their domesticated derivatives are regarded as one species, then the scientific name of that species is the scientific name of the wild animal. In 2005, the third edition of Mammal Species of the World upheld Opinion 2027 with the name Lupus and the note: "Includes the domestic dog as a subspecies, with the dingo provisionally separate - artificial variants created by domestication and selective breeding. Although this may stretch the subspecies concept, it retains the correct allocation of synonyms."[2] The dingo is now listed among the many other Latin-named subspecies of Canis lupus as Canis lupus dingo.[3]

New Guinea Singing Dog

The name Canis antarticus (Kerr, 1792 – note: spelling is not antarcticus) was the first name designated but it was overlooked in preference to dingo. In 1947, the name was proposed for resurrection but was subsequently suppressed by Opinion 451 of the ICZN (1957A:331) in favour of Canis dingo.[10]


At the end of the Last glacial maximum and the rise in sea levels, Tasmania became separated from the Australian mainland 12,000 years before present (YBP),[11] and New Guinea 8,500 YBP[12] by the inundation of the Sahul Shelf.[13] The oldest Canis lupus dingo remains found date back to 3,500 YBP from the Nullabor plain in the southern part of the Australian continent. No remains have been uncovered in Tasmania, therefore the Dingo is estimated to have arrived in Australia between 3,500-12,000 YBP.[4]

In 2004, a study looked at 582 base pairs (nucleotide positions 15,458-16,039) of the mitogenome (maternal mDNA) of the Australian dingo. All dingo sequences in the study were found to be either identical to, or differing by a single substitution from, a single mDNA haplotype called A29. Haplotype A29 falls within the Clade A haplogroup that represents 70% of domestic dogs. All dingo sequences since studied fall within Clade A of the domestic dog.[4][5][14][15] Haplotype A29 is found in both Australian dingoes and in domestic dogs exclusively in the East Asian region: East Siberia, Arctic America, Japan, Indonesia, New Guinea[4] and in South China, Kalimantan, and Bali.[5] The evidence suggests that the haplotype was introduced from East Asia through the islands of the South-East Asian archipelago and into Australia.[4][5] Haplotype A29 was one of several domestic dog mDNA haplotypes brought into island South-East Asia but only A29 reached mainland Australia.[4] The timing suggested by mDNA genetic divergence is through a single founding event[4] or no more than a few founding events[6] either 4,600-5,400 YBP or 4,600-10,800 YPB[4], or 4,640-18,300 YBP,[5] depending on mutation rate assumptions. They remained isolated from other dogs until the arrival of Europeans.[4][6]

The Sahul Shelf and the Sunda Shelf over the past 12,000 years

In 2011, a study looked at 582 base-pairs (nucleotide positions 15,458-16,039) of the mitogenome of the Australian dingo and the New Guinea Singing Dog. The mDNA haplotype A29, or a haplotype one step away, was found in all of the Australian dingoes and New Guinea Singing Dogs studied, indicating a common ancestry.[5]

In 2012, a study looked at 14,437 base-pairs of Y chromosome DNA (paternal yDNA) of the Australian dingo, and found 2 yDNA haplotypes. Haplotype H3 could be found in domestic dogs in East Asia and Northern Europe. Haplotype H60 had not been previously reported but was one step away from haplotype H5 that could be found in East Asian domestic dogs. Only the New Guinea Singing Dog and dingoes from north-eastern Australia showed haplotype H60, which implies a genetic relationship and that the dingo reached Australia from New Guinea. Haplotype H60 and H3 could be found among the southern Australian dingoes with H3 dominant, but haplotype H3 could only be found in the west of the continent and may represent a separate entry from the northwest.[6] Earlier studies using other genetic markers had found the indigenous Bali dog more closely aligned with the Australian dingo than to those European and Asian breeds selected for comparison which indicated that the Bali dog was genetically diverse with a diverse history,[16][17][18] however only one percent exhibited the A29 mDNA haplotype.[5] In 2012, a study of genome-wide SNP data from Indigenous Australians of the Northern Territory and people from southern India found evidence of a gene flow occuring 4,230 YBP. This is also approximately when changes in tool technology, food processing, and the dingo appear in the Australian archaeological record, suggesting that these may be related to the migration from India.[19]

Taxonomic synonyms[edit]

Current taxonomy identifies 10 taxonomic synonyms for the term Canis lupus dingo, the majority of which referred to the Australian dingo, one to the New Guinea Singing Dog, and 3 that refer to dogs that were once thought to be dingoes that were found in Southern and Southeast Asia.

"dingo", Australian dingo[edit]

Included Canis dingo, antarticus [suppressed], Canis australasiae, Canis australiae, Canis dingoides, Canis macdonnellensis, Canis novaehollandiae.[10]

Main article: Dingo

"hallstromi", New Guinea singing dog[edit]

"harappensis", ancient dog found in South Asia[edit]

During excavation seasons in 1924-25 and 1930–31, a team of researchers at Harappa, in modern Pakistan, collected a wide variety of ancient domestic animal remains which had been buried since three thousand years BC. The remains included a dog which the researcher who wrote the report named the Canis tenggeranas harappensis, noting "marked skull affinities to the Indian wolf" and hypothesized to be the ancestor of the Indian Greyhound.[20] Associated with the dingo by Wozencraft in 2005, [2] however harappensis does not closely resemble the dingo.[10]

"tenggerana", Java[edit]

In the late nineteenth century, experts working in the Tennger Mountains in Eastern Java identified a dog living there which they named "Canis familiaris tenggerana". They observed the dogs living alongside the natives in a semi-domesticated state.[21] Associated with the dingo by Wozencraft in 2005, [2] however tenggerana does not closely resemble the dingo.[10]

"papuensis", Papua New Guinea[edit]

In a report to the Linnean Society of New South Wales in 1882, N. De Miklouho-Maclay identified several anatomical and behavioural differences between Australian Dingoes and dogs that inhabited the coastal lowlands (Maclay Coast) of Papua New Guinea. He gave the Papuan coastal canines the scientific name Canis papuensis. The differences between Canis dingo and Canis papuensis included a much smaller brain, which he attributed to the quite different lifestyles of the two animals. There were several differences in overall looks and build. In fact, the dogs he dubbed Papuan Dogs or New Guinea Dogs bore little resemblance to the canines commonly known as New Guinea Singing Dogs. Whereas the Australian Dingo is well known for its intelligence and boldness, as well as near independence from humans, he reported that the coastal Papuan canines remained on the periphery of native villages, regularly feeding on cast-offs and human waste. Hunting on their own was almost unknown. Instead of the bold independence of the Australian dingo, the coastal dogs behaved very subserviently toward humans, exhibiting begging and grovelling. Additionally, he stated, "The Canis papuensis is very different in appearance and character from Canis dingo; is generally smaller, has not the bushy tail of the dingo...." Since New Guinea singing dogs or New Guinea dingoes were not mentioned in his report, it is unknown whether Miklouho-Maclay was even aware of their existence. His report was only concerned with canines he observed along the Maclay Coast.[22] Associated with the dingo by Wozencraft in 2005, [2] however papuensis may refer to feral dogs.[10]

Taxonomic challenge[edit]

The taxonomic classification Canis lupus dingo has been challenged regarding both the New Guinea Singing Dog[23][24][25][26] and the Australian Dingo.[27] The argument is that these are distinctive wild forms that differ from wolves by behavioral, morphological and molecular characteristics, and therefore are effectively a diagnosable species, isolated in undisturbed natural environments, and thus can be considered a distinct taxon Canis dingo. The argument does not duly recognise the relationship with Canis familiaris - they overlap morphologically, hybridize readily, and form a genetic continuum with dogs.[10]


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