Australia’s dingo is a unique species, not a kind of wild dog as previously believed, according to a new study that definitively classifies the country’s largest land predator.
The research by Australian scientists, published in the Journal of Zoology, resurrected the species name Canis dingo, first adopted in 1793 by Friedrich Meyer, a German naturalist.
“What we’ve done is describe the dingo more scientifically,” Mike Letnic of the University of New South Wales told Reuters.
I have to say that I’m not convinced. But that’s because I’m somewhat archaic in what I use as the definition of a species. Which is that if something can breed and (regularly) produce fertile offspring then it’s the same species. So, donkeys and horses are close but not the same species, various of the smaller wildcats and domestic cats are the same species.
As dingos do happily breed with domesticated dogs they’re the same species.
But I agree, that’s not what most people use these days as their definition of a species.
And here’s something I’ve never known. Are Indian and African elephants (or even the plains African and the forest or pygmy African) the same species by my definition of cross breeding? Or not? Anyone know?