The Australian Dingo origin shows why it is truly a rare wild dog & needs protection – a22
The origin of the Australian dingo has been best defined by a 2004 research project.
The study shows that the dingo is now considered to be the oldest living wild dog with the closest genetic resemblance to the wild wolf. As far as the oldest domestic dog breeds go, the most ancient breeds are: the chow-chow, basenji, akita, Chinese shar-pei, Siberian husky and Alaskan malamute.
The detailed 2004 study analysed 211 dingos and concluded that the dingo most likely originated from eastern Asia approximately 5,000 years ago, probably by boat.
This is impressive since a 2009 study defined the origin of the domestic dog to be an evolution of the grey wolf between 5,000 and 15,000 years ago.
“To determine the origin and time of arrival to Australia of the dingo, 582 bp of the mtDNA control region were analyzed in 211 Australian dingoes sampled in all states of Australia, 676 dogs from all continents, and 38 Eurasian wolves, and 263 bp were analyzed in 19 pre-European archaeological dog samples from Polynesia. (They) found that all mtDNA sequences among dingoes were either identical to or differing by a single substitution from a single mtDNA type, A29. This mtDNA type, which was present in >50% of the dingoes, was found also among domestic dogs, but only in dogs from East Asia and Arctic America, whereas 18 of the 19 other types (of DNA sequences) were unique to dingoes. The mean genetic distance to A29 among the dingo mtDNA sequences indicates an origin approximately 5,000 years ago.” Ref 1
The study concluded that the dingoes’ origin was from domestic dogs in East Asia. They were introduced from a small population of dogs (since the modern dingo genetic variation is very small) and it is likely to have occurred on one occasion. Since the introduction (5,000 years ago) the dingo has lived in relative isolation from other dog populations (keeping the breed relatively pure).
The graph below shows the “Genetic relationships between mtDNA control region sequences (582 bp) from dingoes, domestic dogs, and wolves.”
While the dingo has been semi domesticated by aboriginals and 20th century Caucasian trainers, they have proved notoriously difficult to train. This independence and highly attuned hunting skills give the dingo many characteristics of the wolf, rather than the domestic dog. In fact its skeleton has a high resemblance to Indian Pariah dogs and wolves. Its skull morphology is said to be somewhere between that of domestic dogs and wolves.
Today there is a large amount of cross breeding of dingos with feral dogs in eastern Australia, but many of the western Australian dingo samples appear to be ‘pure’.
The only other dog in a similar evolutionary position to the dingo is the New Guinea singing dog. The name originates from its unique ability to modulate its howling into a somewhat melodic tone. Besides it having a similar considerable longevity to the dingo, it also had similar origins. The singing dog is believed to have arrived by a more director route from Asia several thousand years ago, however just like the dingo it was left to roam the islands in isolation of other canids, those remaining relatively unchanged.
The downside of the dingos independence and difficulty in domesticating is that it is considered as a feral pest in most Australian states. With the expansion of farm land, in many areas of Australia the dingo are becoming extinct. A quick search for the term ‘1080 (sodium monofluoroacetate) meat baits’ will show many websites proudly boasting that this poison has the ability to kill dingoes, foxes and feral cats for at least 8 months in unprotected state (rain or not).
It is a national shame that a better solution for dingo population control has not been implemented than this cheap method of mass poisoning. The dingo is a wild animal (not an introduced pest) that should be considered as being as Australian as the Kangaroo and emu.
The current theory of how the dingo arrived from eastern Asia is that it was brought along with pig and chickens by boat during the exploratory expansion of people from southern China into Islands of SE Asia about 6,000 years ago. This expansion continued from Taiwan to the Philippines then Indonesia. It continued westward from Indonesia to Timor then Western Australia.
The mtDNA study agrees with the sketchy historical records of the race expansion and archaeological records that the dingo has been found to originate from a small population of East Asian dogs, with the specific DNA A29 sequence. The semi domestic nature of the current dingo is believed to be partly due to its origin from domestic dogs, then its existence as an isolated wild Australian animal for over 3,500 years. In this way, the dingo is considered to be a “unique isolate of early undifferentiated dogs” ref 1
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Article by Bruce Dwyer. If you wish to use any of this information please refer to the article as a reference and provide a link to http://www.dogwalkersmelbourne.com.au
A detailed picture of the origin of the Australian dingo, obtained from the study of mitochondrial DNA - By Peter Savolainen, Thomas Leitner et al 2004
Dingo image courtesy of http://www.australian-wildlife.com/Dingo-information.html