'Don't call us dogs, we're dingoes': Australian predator now a unique species


  • Living
  • Friday, 04 Apr 2014

Not all dingoes have a brown coat – the original dingoes had black fur. But all dingoes share the characteristic markings of lighter-coloured fur on their chest, muzzle, paws and legs. 

Australia’s dingo is a unique species, not a kind of wild dog as previously believed, according to a new study that definitively classifies the country’s largest land predator.

The research by Australian scientists, published in the Journal of Zoology, resurrected the species name Canis dingo, first adopted in 1793 by Friedrich Meyer, a German naturalist.

“What we’ve done is describe the dingo more scientifically,” Mike Letnic from the University of New South Wales told Reuters.

The confusion over whether the dingo was a distinct species partly originated from the previous classification based on a simple drawing and description in the 18th century journal of Australia’s first governor, Arthur Phillip, without reference to a physical specimen.

“When Phillip got home to England he wrote about his adventures and in that book he wrote one paragraph about the dingo and published a picture and that was, until now, what science knew of the dingo,” Letnic said.

Not all dingoes have a brown coat – the original dingoes had black fur. But all dingoes share the characteristic markings of lighter-coloured fur on their chest, muzzle, paws and legs. 

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