Sometimes nature treats us to some wonderful surprises. Especially when it’s about animals thought to be extinct in the wild. Well, a certain breed of dog thought to be extinct for 50 years has surfaced in the wild in the remote highlands of Papua, Indonesia.
The New Guinea singing dog is extremely rare, and only thought to exist in captivity. It is named such due to its melodic and unique howl, characterized by an increase in pitch from the start to very high frequencies near the end. Only about 200 of this dog breed are known to live in zoos and conservation centers around the world. They are the descendants of the few wild dogs captured in the 1970s.
As luck would have it, back in 2016, a group of researchers spotted a pack of wild dogs in the remote highlands of Papua, Indonesia. They were pleasantly surprised to observe that they were the thought-to-be extinct New Guinea singing dog breed. A few years later, scientists went back to the region to study the site, and collected blood samples from three of the dogs, together with physiological, demographical, and behavioral data. They wanted to confirm if these dogs were indeed related to the ancient breed. A study published recently indicates that these dogs and the ancient singing dog breed are much more closely linked than any other canine. There is a 70% genetic overlap with the captive singing dog population.
The harmonic vocalization is really unique, not just among dogs, but in nature itself. Elaine Ostrander, senior author of the paper on the dogs, stated “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,” she explained to CNN. Hopefully, the newly discovered wild dogs will help preserve the ancient breed by breeding them with the captive dogs in conservation centers. Ostrander added, “ 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.”
Definitely a species to take care of…it is sad that several species of animals have indeed become extinct. Man should do their best to protect the “lower” species of creatures, it is our responsibility to do so. Hopefully, this rare breed will thrive and fill the air with their singing. There were several reactions from people when the news broke out, some hilarious, some seriously concerned. Hopefully all goes well for these lovable and unique dogs. Only time will tell.
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