A unique breed of “singing dog” that had been thought to be extinct for 50 years has been discovered alive and well in its natural habitat.
Since disappearing from its natural environment in the highlands of New Guinea, the New Guinea Singing Dog, an ancient breed of dog famed for its peculiar vocalizations, was assumed to only exist in captivity. Researchers have now located the dogs on the Indonesian side of the island north of Australia, where they are thriving.
When University of Papua scientists visited Puncak Jaya, a mountain peak in Papua, Indonesia, they discovered a group of wild dogs that appeared startlingly similar to the singing dogs found only in zoos and conservation centers across the world.
Photographs and videos were taken, and the researchers began researching the animals’ physical, demographic, and behavioral data. The crew returned to take blood samples to verify or disprove the animals were the same breed maintained alive in captivity for 50 years after determining the pack included both male and female adults, pregnant females, and newborn puppies.
Although the canines weren’t an exact match for the captive singing dogs, researchers discovered that when they compared DNA data, the dogs in Indonesia were significantly more closely linked to those in captivity than two domestic dog types, such as a Beagle and a Golden retriever, are.
The “Highland Wild Dogs,” as they’re known, are an ancestor line to the New Guinea Singing Dogs we know today, with their physical and behavioral distinctions ascribed to interbreeding in captivity during the last five decades.
The video below displays the distinctive vocalizations of a captive New Guinea Singing Dog, vocalizations that the ancient breed observed living wild in Indonesia still makes today.