After nearly half a century of fearing that the New Guinea highland wild dog had gone extinct in its remote and inhospitable habitat, high in the mountains of New Guinea, a pawprint in the mud has led researchers to confirm the existence of at least 15 of them.
Photographs taken with camera traps and DNA analyses of biological samples confirm the dogs — considered the most ancient breed on earth — are living along New Guinea’s remote central mountain spine.
“The discovery and confirmation of the highland wild dog for the first time in over half a century is not only exciting, but an incredible opportunity for science,” says the group behind the discovery, the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation (NGHWDF).
New Guinea highland wild dogs were only known from two unconfirmed photographs in recent years — one taken in 2005, and the other in 2012.
They had not been documented with certainty in their native range in over half a century, and experts feared that what was left of the ancient dogs had dwindled to extinction.
Last year, a NGHWDF expedition led by zoologist James K. McIntyre, was joined by local researchers from the University of Papua, who were also seeking the the elusive dogs.
A muddy paw print spotted in September 2016 finally gave them what they were looking for — recent signs that the wild canids still wandered the dense forests of the New Guinea highlands.
The footprint was one McIntyre had left, with his bare feet, while going up the mountain. On the group’s way down the mountain, he noticed it had been joined by a paw print.
Bait was laid. Camera traps were set. And the cameras captured more than 140 images of Highland Wild Dog.
DNA analysis of fecal fecal samples confirmed that the breed is related to Australian dingos and New Guinea singing dogs – the captive-bred variants of the New Guinea highland wild dog.
The species established itself on the island at least 6,000 years ago, either arriving with human migrants or migrating independently of humans.
The dogs most commonly have a golden coat, but can also be black, tan or cream colors. Their tails curl up over their backsides and their ears sit erect on their heads.
According to the NGHWDF, there are roughly 300 New Guinea singing dogs remaining in the world, living in zoos and private homes. They are known for their high-pitched howls, often carried out in chorus with one another.
A scientific paper on the discovery is expected to be released in the coming months.
Posted by John Woestendiek March 28th, 2017 under Muttsblog.
Tags: analysis, ancient, breeds, discovery, dna, dog breeds, expedition, extinct, james k. mcintyre, mountains, mud, new guinea, new guinea highland wild dogs, not extinct, oldest, pawprint, photographs, photos, research, science, wild dogs, zoologist, zoology
If you were wandering around Maryland 12 million years ago, you might have run into this fellow.
You wouldn’t have know what to call him, though, because only now does his species have a definite name — Cynarctus wangi.
Fossils found by an amateur collector along the beach under the Choptank Formation in Maryland’s Calvert Cliffs region have been identified as the news species of ancient dog by a doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania.
The specimen, found in Maryland, would have roamed the coast of eastern North America approximately 12 million years ago, Science Daily reported.
Among species that still roam the earth, Cynarctus wangi probably most closely resembles the hyena.
“In this respect they are believed to have behaved in a similar way to hyenas today,” said Steven E. Jasinski, a student in the Department of Earth and Environmental Science in Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences and acting curator of paleontology and geology at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg. His new findings were published in the Journal of Paleontology.
Fossils from terrestrial species from the region and time period are rare, he said.
“Most fossils known from this time period represent marine animals, who become fossilized more easily than animals on land,” Jasinski said. “It is quite rare we find fossils from land animals in this region during this time, but each one provides important information for what life was like then.”
Jasinski and Steven C. Wallace, a professor at East Tennessee State University, began their study after the specimen was placed in the Smithsonian Institution.
Initially, they presumed it was a known species of borophagine dog, a species called marylandica that was questionably referred to as Cynarctus, a fossil of which had been found in older sediment in the same area.
But when they compared features of the teeth of the previously known and the new specimens, they found notable differences and concluded the specimen represented a distinct species new to science.
“It looks like it might be a distant relative descended from the previously known borophagine,” Jasinski said.
Borophagine dogs were widespread in North America from around 30 million to about 10 million years ago. The last members went extinct around 2 millions of years ago during the late Pliocene.
Cynarctus wangi represents one of the last surviving borophagines and was likely outcompeted by ancestors of some of the canines living today: wolves, coyotes and foxes.
The name of the new species honors Xiaoming Wang, curator at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and an expert on mammalian carnivores.
(Illustration from “Dogs, Their Fossil Relatives and Evolutionary History,” courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania)
Posted by John Woestendiek May 12th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ancient, animals, choptank, cynarctus wangi, dog, dogs, evolution, fossil, fossils, hyenas, identified, maryland, pets, species
A discovery at an ancient dog burial ground in Egypt proves, archaeologically, what history has already recorded — ticks have been around for a loooooong time.
At least one of the well-preserved parasites was found in a mummified dog’s right ear.
According to LiveScience.com, it’s the the first archaeological evidence of bloodsucking parasites plaguing dogs as far back as the era of Roman rule in Egypt.
French archaeologists found the infested dog mummy while studying hundreds of mummified dogs at the excavation site of El Deir in Egypt, known as the Dog Catacombs, during expeditions in 2010 and 2011.
The parasites included the common brown tick and louse fly.
“Although the presence of parasites, as well as ectoparasite-borne diseases, in ancient times was already suspected from the writings of the major Greek and Latin scholars, these facts were not archaeologically proven until now,” said Jean-Bernard Huchet, an archaeoentomologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Paris.
The Dog Catacombs date to 747-730 B.C., and are dedicated to the Anubis, the Egyptians’ jackal-headed god of the dead.
They were first documented in the 19th century, but weren’t fully excavated until 2011 when a team led by Paul Nicholson, an archaeologist at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom, started examining the tunnels and their contents.
It’s estimated the catacombs contain the remains of 8 million animals, mostly dogs and jackals.
Many appear to have been only hours or days old when they were killed and mummified.
The Dog Catacombs are located at Saqqara, the burial ground for the ancient capital Memphis.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 26th, 2013 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ancient, archaeologists, archaeology, brown tick, burial, dog, dog catacombs, dogs, egypt, flies, ground, history, jackals, mummies, mummified, mummy, parasites, pests, site, ticks
Just when I proclaim this quite a week for wieners (dogs and franks), there’s more late breaking wiener news: The world’s oldest hot dog — possibly the world’s first hot dog — has been unearthed at Coney Island, CNN and others reported.
CNN posted a story about the “discovery” of a “140-year-old hot dog” after officials at the Coney Island History Project put an “ancient” frankfurter — bun and all — on display, saying it was unearthed during the demolition of Feltman’s Kitchen, said to be where the first hot dog was made.
“1st Hot Dog,” read a sign next to the display. To the embarassment of CNN and others who picked up the story — to be frank, they didn’t check the facts — it was all just a publicity stunt, aimed at creating interest in an exhibition this summer of real artifacts from the Feltman’s site, the New York Post says.
“The recent discovery by an amateur archaeologist of the ‘140 Year Old Feltman’s Hot Dog’ encased in ice along with a bun, [and] an original receipt from Feltman’s, … was a publicity stunt in the grand tradition of Coney Island ballyhoo,” said Tricia Vita, spokeswoman for the history project.
She said that the hoax was an example of Coney Island’s history of P.T. Barnum-type hype. Even though the ancient hot dog was said to be found “encased in ice” by archaelogists, the story was gobbled right up.
(It was Barnum, I believe, who said a sucker was born every minute. That rate has increased to about every millisecond, thanks to the Internet.)
“I was surprised in the beginning at how many people believed it was true,” Vita said. “But after reading all the buzz about it on Twitter and the Internet, I’m not really that surprised because people want to believe these types of things are true.”
Posted by John Woestendiek February 25th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: 140-year-old hot dog, ancient, antique, cnn, coney island, coney island history project, feltman's, fooled, frankfurter, hoax, hot dog, joke, journalism, media, new york, news, oldest, publicity stunt, report, reporting, sucker, wiener