Stay on target
Dogs are pernicious beasts. Researchers have finally found evidence of the New Guinea wild dog — a species long thought extinct on the island.
Throughout 2016 scientists used camera traps to capture more than a dozen dogs in various life stages on film. This particularly interesting because DNA sequencing reveals these dogs to be some of the most primitive on earth. That could help us learn a lot more about the genetic effects of domestication on modern domestic dogs.
“[It] is the rarest and most ancient canid currently living,” reads the New Guinea Highland Dog Foundation (mouthful) website. “It is our best example of a proto-canid and is truly a living fossil. It is the apex predator of New Guinea and the most important canid in existence. The HWD is the missing link species between the first early canids and the modern domestic dog.”
This is also the culmination of years of recent searches. Since the early 2000s, academics and conservations have been trying to track down rumored sightings and capture evidence that these rare species still lived. But two teams of researchers came together last year to hone in on these dogs’ likely ranges, and deployed camera traps in the trees and brush of the forests. Fortunately, they didn’t have to wait long.
In just two days’ time, there were 140 recordings of the dogs as well as collected droppings. Several of the team also had direct sightings, but while they are sentimentally valuable, first-hand accounts aren’t always as scientifically useful as images and videos which can be shown and compared with others.
In any case, this is an exciting day for doggo science. And if you’re like me, you thought you knew everything there is to know about doggos. Well, we, in our feeble arrogance, thought wrong. There is more to know. I think we should pet the doggos and especially the puppers until they reveal all their secrets.
Wait… too far?