The New Guinea ‘singing’ dog which was thought to be extinct in the wild has reappeared after 50 years.
The rare breed, known for its unique howls, has been found in the highlands of west New Guinea, also known as Papua, in Indonesia.
The animals were first discovered there in 2016, however researchers have only just published evidence showing they are ‘singing’ dogs.
A journal article comparing DNA from three of the 15 wild pooches was published on Monday.
Around 200 ‘singing’ dogs, whose ancestors were captured in the 1970s, live in zoos and conservation centres.
Their genomes were not identical with the wild group of dogs, however the difference was attributed to decades of inbreeding among the captive population.
A description of the journal article, which was published in PNAS, states: “We provide DNA-based evidence for an ancestral relationship between highland wild dogs (HWD) and captive NGSD suggesting that the founding population of the NGSD is not, in fact, extinct and that HWD should be resourced for conservation efforts to rebuild this unique canid population.”
Researcher Elaine Ostrander 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.”
The wild dogs have a 70 per cent genetic overlap with the captive animals, 9News reports.
The new group was discovered in 2016 near a gold and copper mine in Papua.
An effort to protect the ecosystem around the mine had enabled the pooches to survive.
Sonograms show that ‘singing’ dog’s wail is similar to the humpback whale’s song, according to San Diego Zoo.