It’s always nice to hear some good news especially if it is about something that has happened in 2020. What makes it even better is if the news has something to do with dogs. Recently an ancient breed of “New Guinea Singing Dogs” which were considered extinct in the wild five decades ago was spotted once again for the very first time in the wild.
The dogs were spotted by researchers in Papua, Indonesia
Researchers spotted the dogs in the remote highlands of Papua, Indonesia. Before their discovery, it was originally believed that the New Guinea Singing Dog only existed in captivity. And while there wasn’t a trace of them left in the wild, they were officially considered as an extinct species.
The New Guinea Singing Dog was given its name because of its unique melodious howl. The dogs have a sharp howl which increases in pitch at the start, and reaches very high frequencies towards the end. These are an extremely rare breed of dogs, thought to have been long extinct before being rediscovered recently.
Presently, only around 200 of these dogs exist in zoos and conservation centers
At present, there are as few as 200 of these rare special breed of dogs living in zoos or conservation centers across the entire world. These captive dogs are actually descendants of a few wild dogs that were captured in the 1970’s.
A pack of wild dogs which resembled this ancient breed were spotted for the first time when researchers travelled to the remote highlands of Papua, Indonesia in 2016. These scientists returned a few years later to the very same location and study site to collect blood samples from three of the dogs.
They also collected data on the dogs’ physiology, behavior, and demography. This was carried out in order to confirm and clarify if these dogs were actually related to the New Guinea singing dogs.
Data revealed a 70% genetic overlap with the captive singing dog population
The findings of the study revealed that these wild dogs had an astonishing 70% genetic overlap with the singing dog population in captivity. The DNA comparison suggested that these dogs are much more closely linked to the singing ones more so than any other canine breed.
The New Guinea singing dog has a beautiful harmonic vocalization unique to its species
One unique trait of the New Guinea singing dog is that it has a beautiful harmonic vocalization that is not found anywhere else in nature. The senior author of the research paper, Elaine Ostrander, told CNN that “The conservation dogs are super inbred. It started with eight dogs, and they’ve been bred to each other, bred to each other, and bred to each other for generations–so they’ve lost a lot of genetic diversity”.
Researchers now hope to preserve this rare species of dogs by making efforts to breed some of the newly discovered wild dogs with the ones in captivity.
Elaine Ostrander added that “New Guinea singing dogs are rare. They’re exotic. They have this beautiful harmonic vocalization that you don’t find anywhere else in nature, so losing that as a species is not a good thing. We don’t want to see this animal disappear”.