For over two centuries, Australians have referred to the dingo as their continent’s native dog. But as a new study shows, it’s not really a dog at all, but rather a species in its own right.
The confusion started in the 18th century with a simple drawing and description made by Australia’s first governor, Arthur Phillip.
Since that time, scientists have lacked a proper scientific description of the animal.
Typically, animals have an official description based on an actual specimen (and not just a “rudimentary” illustration) that’s used to distinguish one species from another.
The new study, conducted by Mathew Crowther from the University of Sydney, corrects this oversight.
Scientists now say that dingos are distinct from domestic dogs and a distinct form of canid.
Consequently, scientists have resurrected the species name Canis dingo which was adopted in 1793 by a German naturalist.
Now, this is not to say that dingos and domesticated dogs don’t have a common ancestor. They most certainly do.
Dingoes were introduced to Australia around 3,000 to 5,000 years ago, with genetic evidence suggesting dingos are descended from East Asian domestic dogs.