[lit-ideas] Is the Dingo a feral dog or a separate subspecies?

  • From: "Lawrence Helm" <lawrencehelm@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Lit-Ideas " <Lit-Ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 13 Jul 2011 07:22:01 -0700


I take it you are asking in an implicatory sort of way why I didn't refer to
the dog as canis lupus familiaris.  In this case the term depends on whether
the dingo is a canis lupus familiaris or its own subspecies.   

According to Spencer Wells on page 126 of DEEP ANCESTRY, "It appears that
men and women made this long coastal voyage [to Australia] together, on
foot, around 50,000 years ago."  In his book THE JOURNEY OF MAN Wells
describes artifacts "from sedimentary layers below Mungo 3" which "hint at
dates as ancient as 60,000 years before present."  

Evidence is strong that the Dingo accompanied man as Canis Familiaris to
Australia (but probably not with the Mungo 3 humans), e.g.,  "Analyses of
amino sequences of the hemoglobin of a "pure" dingo in the 70s supported the
theory that dingoes are more closely related to other domestic dogs than to
grey wolves or coyotes."  And,

". . . it was also considered that dingoes might have arrived within 4,600
to 10,800 years ago, in case that the mtDNA-mutation rate was slower than
assumed. Furthermore it was reasoned that these findings strongly indicate a
descent of dingoes from East-Asian domestic dogs and not from Indian
domestic dogs or wolves. In addition these findings indicated two
possibilities of descent:

    * All Australian dingoes are descended from a few domestic dogs,
theoretically one pregnant female
    * All Australian dingoes are descended from a group of domestic dogs,
who radically lost their genetic diversity through one or several severe
genetic bottlenecks on their way from the Asian continent over
Southeast-Asia"   from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dingo

If this is true then at the very least the dingo should be called "Canis
Familiaris Dingo" and not "Canis Lupus Dingo."  But, we ask, is the
difference between the Dingo and Canis Familiaris so different as to warrant
its designation as a separate subspecies?

There is a modern theory that if canis familiaris is allowed to breed
completely at random then in a few thousand years he will look like other
Pariah dogs.  Two such examples are the Carolina dog and the Canaan dog.  As
it happens I have a nephew who developed a fondness for the dingo.  He
wanted to own one.  I directed him toward the Carolina Dog as an accessible
equivalent.    In the Carolinas feral dogs ran wild for many generations,
perhaps for thousands of years (its advocates would have us believe) and
ended up looking quite a lot like the Dingo.  See

If it is true that dogs left to their own devices will end up looking like
Carolina or Canaan dogs; which look and behave quite a lot like Dingoes then
what will the Smithsonian and American Society of Mammologists say when
their studies catch up with those of the avid fans of the Carolina and
Canaan breeds?    

Interestingly, Dog Breed Info treats the Dingo as any other dog a
prospective buyer might want to own.  Maybe it is a little more quirky than
some breeds, but it is apparently still possible to get one and have it
behave like a domestic dog, if one gets it before 6 weeks of age.  See


-----Original Message-----
From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx]
On Behalf Of Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, July 12, 2011 7:44 PM
To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: [lit-ideas] "Canis lupus familaris" (Am. Soc. Mamm., 1993)

"The domestic dog was originally classified as Canis familiaris and Canis
familiarus domesticus by Carolus Linnaeus in 1758,[19][20] and was
reclassified  in 1993 as Canis lupus familiaris, a subspecies of the gray
wolf Canis lupus, by  the Smithsonian Institution and the American Society
of Mammalogists" -- Fail to  know exactly WHO. 
Perhaps we can explain, alla Grice -- as Horn does -- the 'narrow'  
implicature at play here:
from online source:

"hound (n.)
O.E. hund "dog," from P.Gmc. *hundas (cf. O.S., O.Fris.  hund, O.H.G. hunt,
Ger. Hund, O.N. hundr, Goth. hunds), from PIE *kuntos, dental  enlargement
of base *kwon- "dog" (see canine). Meaning narrowed 12c. to "dog  used for
"meaning narrowed 12c. to "dog used for hunting".
Same time, I would suspect when "deer" was narrowed down to 'cervus cervus' 
 rather than a general meaning of 'animal'.
---- Next I would need to get a good quote about dog but I keep failing.  
Hence the rather boring header to this...

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  • » [lit-ideas] Is the Dingo a feral dog or a separate subspecies? - Lawrence Helm