We know dogs can bark and cry, but did you know they can yodel, too? Well, at least this one particular breed can anyway.
The New Guinea Highland dog, otherwise known as the New Guinea singing dog, is considered to be an extremely rare breed. It is renowned for its distinctive barks and howls. It can actually make harmonic sounds that mimic the calls of a humpback whale, according to the San Diego Zoo.
The existence of the dogs came to light after a specimen was found at an altitude of about 2,100 metres in Central Province, Papua New Guinea, in 1897, according to a study. In 2016, they were spotted in the wild for the first time in 50 years. They were believed to be extinct because of habitat loss and hybrid breeding with feral village dogs.
The 2016 expedition found and studied 15 wild dogs in a remote area in western New Guinea, known as Papua, in Indonesia. In 2018, the same group of researchers returned to the high-altitude region, enduring extreme weather and landscapes to obtain blood, hair, scat, tissue and saliva samples, as well weight, age and general health conditions.
New Guinea singing dog. Photo: R.G. Daniel/Wikimedia.
This was done as a way to verify whether these highland wild dogs were the authentic predecessors of the singing dogs.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Texas A&M University analyzed DNA from the blood of three of the dogs, revealing they have very similar genome sequences and are much more closely related to each other than any other canine, according to research from the New Guinea Highland Wild Dog Foundation that was published in the journal PNAS.
Researchers are hopeful this will lead to breeding some of the highland wild dogs with the New Guinea singing dogs, possibly with the use of sperm samples, to create an authentic population of the singing dogs.
New Guinea singing dog. Photo: Patti McNeal/Wikimedia.
The singing dog's joints and spine are extremely flexible, climbing and jumping like a cat, according to the San Diego Zoo. Approximately 200 of the dogs are in captivity in conservation centres or zoos, the descendants of a few wild dogs trapped in the 1970s.
Thumbnail courtesy of R.G. Daniel/Wikimedia.