For decades, researchers have feared that the rare New Guinea Highland Wild Dog had gone extinct.
In exciting news, a recent expedition to the remote central mountains of the New Guinea Highlands has finally revealed the existence of a healthy, viable population of the dogs living far from any human settlement.
The group behind the discovery, the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation (NGHWDF), captured more than 140 photos of at least 15 individual dogs. The population includes males, females and puppies, showing that they are not only surviving, they are thriving. DNA analysis proves them to be the most ancient, primitive canids in existence.
The first sign of hope arrived in the form of a muddy pawprint in September 2016, confirming that something dog-like had recently roamed the area. Before this discovery, no concrete proof of surviving New Guinea highland wild dogs had been collected in more than 50 years.
“The 2016 Expedition was able to locate, observe, gather documentation and biological samples, and confirm through DNA testing that at least some specimens still exist and thrive in the highlands of New Guinea,” says the NGHWDF.
Lady Foot, the dog who followed Mac up the trail and left her footprints next to his. While Mac searched for dogs, Lady Foot found him.
Not only have the elusive dogs been rediscovered, the expedition has helped to shed light on why many believed they had become extinct. It turns out they are incredibly good at hiding, setting up camp in one of the most remote and inhospitable regions of the world and living in isolation safe from human interference.
White Cheek Girl hopes you enjoyed the photos!
Scientists now hope that DNA obtained from fecal samples will help them to further understand canid evolution. They have already confirmed that New Guinea highland wild dogs are related to Australian dingos and New Guinea singing dogs, but are yet to discover the details of that relationship.
They hope that new data will provide answers to questions of canid and human co-evolution and migration.
H/T to Science Alert
Featured Image via New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation