Scientists use genomics to discover an ancient dog species that may teach us about human vocalization
The finding marks a new effort in conserving an ancient dog breed, with potential to inform human vocalization processes
In a study published in PNAS, researchers used conservation biology and genomics to discover that the New Guinea singing dog, thought to be extinct for 50 years, still thrives. Scientists found that the ancestral dog population still stealthily wanders in the Highlands of New Guinea. This finding opens new doors for protecting a remarkable creature that can teach biologists about human vocal learning. The New Guinea singing dog can also be utilized as a valuable and unique animal model for studying how human vocal disorders arise and finding potential treatment opportunities. The study was performed by researchers at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI), part of the National Institutes of Health, Cenderawasih University in Indonesia, and other academic centers.
The New Guinea singing dog was first studied in 1897, and became known for their unique and characteristic vocalization, able to make pleasing and harmonic sounds with tonal quality. Only 200–300 captive New Guinea singing dogs exist in conservation centers, with none seen in the wild since the 1970s.
"The New Guinea singing dog that we know of today is a breed that was basically created by people," said Elaine Ostrander, Ph.D., NIH Distinguished Investigator and senior author of the paper. "Eight were brought to the United States from the Highlands of New Guinea and bred with each other to create this group."
This page was last updated on Friday, January 21, 2022