November 18 – Dingoes Ate My Post

Today’s factismal: The dingo was introduced to Australia 4,000 years ago by Polynesian traders.

Invasive animals and plants are a problem everywhere, but they are particularly pernicious in Australia. That’s because the “island continent” has been isolated from the rest of the world for so long that most of its species lack defenses against the invaders. To make a bad situation worse, many of the invaders come from regions with more intense evolutionary competition and so have learned to do more with less; as a result, they simply out-compete the native species.

That’s why rabbits have run rampant across southern Australia and why camels clomp through the western deserts. (Amusing side note: the camels in Australia are such pure breeds that they are imported into Arabia where the camels suffer from in-breeding.) That’s why cane toads are wrecking the rain forest and why feral cats have become public health menace number one in the cities. And it is especially why dingoes have wiped out so many native species.

The dingo is a feral dog that has evolved over the 4,000 years since it was accidentally introduced to Australia by passing Polynesians. It has adapted well to Australia’s drier regions, developing fluffier ears to screen out the sand and a sandy brown coat to blend in with the background. And, over the years since it first appeared on Australia’s shores, it has adapted very well to hunting the local wildlife. Though it will attack sheep and cattle (two more introduced species that verge on being invasive), it really likes to munch on rabbits (yeah) and kangaroos (boo) making both a boon and a bane. Indeed, there are actually a few programs devoted to preserving the dingo which is in danger of being driven out of some parts of Australia.

Of course, Australia isn’t the only place with invasive species. If you’d like to find out if that new weed is an invasive or would like to report an invasive species, then head on over to My Invasive:

6 thoughts on “November 18 – Dingoes Ate My Post

    • I’m sorry but you are simply wrong on that. See any of the papers that I linked to in my reply to Tom; they all show that the dingo has close ties to several species, most notably the dogs of Southeast Asia.

  1. Thank you for partially publishing a highly edited version of my post. However I see it has been highly modified to be taken out of context and is missing mentions to PEER REVIEWED papers and studies from 2012 and 2014 that prove against what you are saying. You lose all credibility by doing this. I am very disappointed to see people ignoring the science and continuing to refer to ancient studies that do not utilize the latest techniques as the technology was not available at the time.

    How do you explain the lacking or next-to-lacking of AMY2b gene in dingoes? Do you even know what this gene is? This gene is present in all the look-a-likes but not in dingoes. Do you know what this infers? What is your background in genetics? You can’t argue with missing genes. Please portray the facts in their entirety and stop propagating myth and yesterday’s beliefs and papers.

    • Tom,

      I have not edited your post. It appears as it was sent to me.

      Here are a few peer reviewed papers from this year that support the recent arrival of the dingo:
      M. S. Crowther, M. S., M. Fillios, N. Colman, and M. Letnic, An updated description of the Australian dingo (Canis dingo Meyer, 1793), Journal of Zoology, Volume 293, Issue 3, pages 192–203, July 2014

      Lentic, M., M. Fillios, and M. S. Cfrowther, The Arrival and Impacts Of The Dingo, in Carnivores of Australia: Past, Present and Future, edited by A. S. Glen, Chris R Dickman, 2014, CSIRO Publishing

      Prowse, T. A. A., C. N. Johnson, C. J. A. Bradshaw, and B. W. Brook, An ecological regime shift resulting from disrupted predator–prey interactions in Holocene Australia, Ecology 95:693–702, 2014,

      Morey, D. F., In search of Paleolithic dogs: a quest with mixed results, Journal of Archaeological Science, Volume 52, December 2014, Pages 300–307

      The simple truth is that the preponderance of the evidence is on the side of a recent (circa 4,000 year) arrival for the dingo. As for the AMY2b gene, please note that it is also absent in the husky. In both cases, it is indicative of a bottleneck in the population.


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