Rare ‘singing’ dog, thought to have been extinct in the wild for 50 years, is still thriving

The New Guinea Singing Dog, an extremely rare breed, is famous for its unique barking and howling – it is able to make harmonious sounds that can be compared to the calls of a humpback whale.

Only about 200 captive singing dogs live in conservation centers or zoos, descendants For a few captured wild dogs in the 1970s. Animals are bred severely due to the lack of new genes.

None had been seen in their natural habitat for half a century until 2016, when an expedition identified and studied 15 wild Dogs in the remote highlands of the west side of New Guinea, known as Papua, is in Indonesia. A new expedition returned to the study site in 2018 to collect detailed biological samples to confirm whether these highland wild dogs were indeed the ancestors of singing dogs.

A comparison of DNA extracted from blood collected from three dogs showed that they had very similar genomic sequences and were more closely related to each other than to any other dog, according to research published Monday in the journal PNAS.

While their genomes were not identical, the researchers believed Highland dogs to be the original wild and singing dog group of New Guinea, with a difference due to the physical separation of several decades and inbreeding among the captive singing dogs of New Guinea.

said Eileen Ostrander, a senior researcher at the National Institutes of Health and Senior author of the paper.

“Keeping dogs are super innate; (she) Starting with eight dogs, they have been bred to each other, bred to each other, and bred to each other for generations – so they have lost a lot of genetic diversity. ”

Ostrander said that highland wild dogs have 70% genetic overlap with the captive population, and the variation likely contains some of the original diversity now lost in the inbred population – a breed largely created by people.

New Guinea is the second largest island in the world. The eastern half is Papua New Guinea, while the western half is part of Indonesia and is known as Papua. The dogs were first described after a specimen was found at an altitude of about 2,100 meters in the central province, Papua New Guinea, in 1897, the study said.

Despite anecdotal reports and unconfirmed images in recent years, many fear that the New Guinea wild dog may have become extinct through the loss of its habitat and mixing with feral village dogs.

However, the dogs were rediscovered in 2016 near the Grasberg gold and copper mine in Papua, where measures to protect the ecosystem around the mine inadvertently created a sanctuary where highland wild dogs can thrive. The expedition team was led by James McIntyre, a field researcher and founder of the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation.

The same team traveled to the remote highlands two years later and braved harsh weather and terrain to collect blood, hair, faeces, tissue and saliva samples. The researchers also took measurements of the dogs, their weight, age, general health and physical condition, and two animals were given GPS collars to study their travel habits and regions.

According to the San Diego Zoo, the singing dog’s joints and spine are highly flexible – it climbs and jumps like a cat. The zoo said that ultrasound imaging showed that this unique dog resembles the song of a humpback whale.

The researchers eventually hope that it will eventually be possible to breed some wild dogs in the highlands with New Guinean singing dogs, possibly through the use of sperm samples, to generate a true population of New Guinean singing dogs.

“New Guinean dogs that sing are rare, they are weird and 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 (the animal),” Ostrander said.

By studying animals, researchers hope to deepen our understanding of dogs before they were domesticated. While Singing Dogs of New Guinea and wild dogs of the Highlands are part of the familiar Canis lupus dog species, researchers have found that each contains genetic variants not found in other dogs we know today.

said Heidi Parker, a scientist at the National Human Rights Institute for Genome Research, part of the National Institutes of Health.

“By getting to know these ancient primitive dogs more, we will learn new facts about modern dog breeds and the history of dog domestication,” Ostrander noted in a statement. “After all, much of what we learn about dogs is mirrored in humans.”

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: