Dusicyon avus

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Dusicyon avus
Temporal range: Late Pleistocene (Lujanian)-Holocene
~0.78–0.003 Ma
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Genus: Dusicyon
D. avus
Binomial name
Dusicyon avus
  • Canis avus
  • Canis platensis Mercerat 1891

Dusicyon avus is an extinct species in the genus Dusicyon. It was medium to large, about the size of a German shepherd.[2] Its scientific name means "ancestor of the foolish dog". It was closely related to the warrah or Falkland Islands wolf.[3]


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.[4]


Its diet included South American mammals, unlike the warrah, whose diet was restricted to the seabirds available on the Falkland Islands.

Relationship to humans[edit]

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.[5]


Dusicyon avus appears to have become extinct around 1000 BCE.[6] There are, however, possibilities that it became extinct as recently as 500 – 300 years BP.[1]

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.[7] If the "big fox" was D. avus, this would indicate that it survived until the 20th century, at least in this location.[8]

Human use[edit]

The teeth of D. avus were used in a religious context in aboriginal settlements in Buenos Aires.[9]


  1. ^ a b Sillero-Zubiri, C. (2015). "Dusicyon avus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2015: e.T82337482A82337485. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T82337482A82337485.en.
  2. ^ http://eol.org/data_objects/32421837
  3. ^ Austin, Jeremy J.; Soubrier, Julien; Prevosti, Francisco J.; Prates, Luciano; Trejo, Valentina; Mena, Francisco; Cooper, Alan (2013). "The origins of the enigmatic Falkland Islands wolf". Nature Communications. 4: 1552. doi:10.1038/ncomms2570. PMID 23462995. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
  4. ^ Dusicyon avus at Fossilworks.org
  5. ^ Luciano Prates. Crossing the boundary between humans and animals: the extinct fox Dusicyon avus from a hunter-gatherer mortuary context in Patagonia (Argentina). Antiquity 88/342, 1201–1212. http://antiquity.ac.uk/ant/088/ant0881201.htm
  6. ^ F.J. Prevosti et al., 2011. Constraining the time of extinction of the South American fox Dusicyon avus (Carnivora, Canidae) during the late Holocene. Quaternary International 245/2, 209-217.
  7. ^ C.R. Gallardo, Los onas. Cabault y Cia, Buenos Aires (1910)
  8. ^ The elusive evidence: the archaeological record of the South American extinct megafauna. American Megafaunal Extinctions at the End of the Pleistocene, en: Haynes, G. (Ed.) Springer, Amsterdam
  9. ^ "PaleoArgentina. Periodo Holoceno". Retrieved 2 October 2014.