Dusicyon avus is an extinct species in the genus Dusicyon. It was medium to large, about the size of a German shepherd. Its scientific name means "ancestor of the foolish dog". It was closely related to the warrah or Falkland Islands wolf.
D. avus lived in the south-central and southern parts of South America. Its fossils have been found in the Luján Formation of Argentina, the Chui Formation of Brazil, the Milodón Cave in Chile and the Sopas Formation of Uruguay.
Its diet included South American mammals, unlike the warrah, whose diet was restricted to the seabirds available on the Falkland Islands.
Relationship to humans
A grave of the late second millennium BCE at Loma de los Muertos in General Conesa, Río Negro Argentina contains a sub-adult D. avus, buried in a human mortuary context in a comparable manner to adjacent human burials. It may have been kept as a pet and been considered part of the human social group.
It is possible, but as yet unproven, that some populations of D. avus may have persisted until the time of European contact. Forty years before the introduction of the gray fox on Tierra del Fuego, there are some ethnographic references to the existence of two species of foxes there. Around 1900, the indigenous Ona were recorded as recognizing two varieties of foxes, one of which grew to unusual size. If the "big fox" was D. avus, this would indicate that it survived until the 20th century, at least in this location.
The teeth of D. avus were used in a religious context in aboriginal settlements in Buenos Aires.
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