New Guinea: A rare breed of singing dogs in New Guinea highland, Indonesia were found after being reported to be extinct for more than fifty years.
These kinds of dogs are an extremely rare breed and are known for their unique style of barks and howls. It is also able to make harmonic sounds similar to the calls of a humpback whale.
There are only 200 captive singing dogs which live in the conservation centres or 50 zoos, while the offsprings of few wild dogs were reportedly captured in the 1970s. These animals are rigorously inbred because they lack new genes.
Until 2016, there were no reports of singing dogs in their natural habitat. An expedition was carried out to locate them, it studied 15 wild dogs in the remote highlands of the western side of New Guinea, which is known as Papua in Indonesia.
Another expedition was again carried out in 2018 at the same site. The researchers collected detailed biological samples to verify whether these highland wild dogs are truly the descendants of the singing dogs.
According to reports published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), the DNA samples which were collected from the three dogs indicated that they have the genome sequencing which is closely linked to each other than any other breed or canine.
Elaine Ostrander, a distinguished investigator at the National Institutes of Health and senior author of the paper, said, “They look most related to a population of conservation biology new guinea singing dogs that were descended from eight dogs brought to the United States many, many, many years ago.”
“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,” Ostrander was quoted as saying by the CNN.
However, many feared that the New Guinea highland dogs had become extinct due to loss of habitat and mixing with other village dogs, even after anecdotal reports and unconfirmed photographs in the past years.
According to the San Diego Zoo, the joints and the spines of the singing dogs are extremely flexible. It can jump like a cat.
The researchers also hope that it will be possible to breed the highland wild dogs with the New Guinea singing dogs with the use of sperm samples to generate New Guinea singing dogs.
Heidi Parker, a staff scientist at the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health said, “They are in a branch of a tree together with dingos which suggests that singing dogs and dingos and highland wild dogs split off really early. They’re much older in terms of dog development.”
By studying the animals, the researchers hope to enhance the understanding of dogs before they were even domesticated. The New Guinea singing dogs and highland dogs are the part of the dog species which is known as Canis lupus familiaris. It is also found that they contain genomic variants which do not exist in any other dog breeds known today.