Origin of the Australian Dingo
by the study of Mitochondrial DNA
Summary by Dr.
© de Caprona
lupus dingo © Jörn Brauns
Detailed picture of the origin of the Australian Dingo, obtained from
study of Mitochondrial DNA" by Savolainen et al (2004) gives
as to when and from where the Australian Dingo* may have originated.
A) 582 bp of
mtDNA control region were analysed in:
19 kept in captivity and 192 from the wild representing 27 regions
676 dogs from
Southwest Asia, India, Siberia, Arctic America, China/Mongolia/Korea,
Vietnam/Cambodia/Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Highland
38 Eurasian wolves
B) 290 bp of
mtDNA were analysed in pre-European archaelogical dog remains from Cook
Island, Hawai and New Zealand.
The mtDNA of the
Dingo shows restricted sequence variation compared to the domestic dogs
and the wolves in the study.
The 211 Dingoes had
types differing from each other by at most 2 substitutions. 2 of the
mtDNA types were identical to dog haplotypes, whereas the other 18 were
specific to Dingoes.
In contrast, the 676
dogs showed 114 mtDNA types with up to 16 substitutions between mtDNA
Dingoes fall within the largest clade of dog sequences, Clade A,
70% of domestic dog types.
53% of the
the A 29 mtDNA type, one had the A 9 type, and 18 had mtDNA types
to Dingo clustering around A 29 in a star-like formation,
that all Dingo mtDNA types originate from A 29. A9 was found only
one indivdual and is considered to be the result of a parallel mutation.
The mean distance to
in the Dingo mtDNA sequences shows considerable variation between
Australia and other areas of the country, probably as a result of
The A 29 type is
domestic dogs also but only in East Asia and Arctic America.
The authors conclude
the Australian Dingo originates from East Asia, not from India, and
it perhaps travelled to Australia during the Austronesian expansion
Island Southeast Asia. They descend from a small population of dogs,
as few as single pregnant female or as a small group which had lost
variation on its way from the Asian Mainland, and have evolved until
in isolation from other canine populations. The mean genetic distance
the Dingo's mtDNA sequences times the origin of the Dingo at circa
to 5,400 years ago. The dogs of neighboring islands as well as the
samples show that several other mtDNA types were present in the region.
The fact that none of them were found in the Dingoes suggest that their
ancestors were imported only once.
New Guinea** Singing Dog (Canis lupus hallstromi) also has the mtDNA A
29 type, and a unique New Guinea Singing dog type derived from A 29 by
one substitution. It is therefore possible that it shares a common
and had some gene flow with the Australian Dingo.
New Guinea Singing
Canis lupus hallstromi © Valerie Abbott
I thank P.
fine tuning this text.
Th, Wilton AN, Matisoo-Smith E, Lundeberg J (2004): "A
picture of the origin of the Australian Dingo, obtained from the study
of Mitochondrial DNA". PNAS, August 17 2004, Vol.101, no33,
the Dingo as a hunting companion and as a guard dog although the Dingo
was not fully domesticated. The Dingoes also kept them warm at night.
many areas the Dingo is now wild and lives alone or in small
groups. The Dingo howls and yelps but does not bark. Its preservation
threatened as it loses habitat, crossbreeds with dogs and is considered
in some areas to be a pest.
**New Guinea is
second largest island situated North of Australia. It is separated in
roughly identical political halves, West Papua with Manokwari as its
and Papua with Jayapura as its capital.