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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 September, 2003, 11:57 GMT 12:57 UK
First dingo 'was Indonesian pet'
Dingo, AP
The Australian dingo is a wild dog known for its aggression
The Australian dingo probably descended from a single domestic dog brought from what is now Indonesia, according to the latest scientific research.

The mother of all dingoes could have been a single pregnant female which travelled to Australia 5,000 years ago.

Scientists from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) studied the DNA of more than 200 dingoes across Australia before forming their conclusion.

"All the dingoes have a very similar DNA type," said researcher Alan Wilton.

"Any variation we find in a population is only a single mutation away from the main type," he told a conference in Sydney on Monday.

DINGOES
Australia's largest mammalian predator
Strongly territorial and highly intelligent
Do not bark, but can howl
The findings - by UNSW researchers together with colleagues in Sweden and Britain - suggest that all dingoes descend from a very small number of dogs or even just one female.

The prototype was likely to have been a breed of domestic dog in or near modern Indonesia.

Dogs are believed to have been brought to Australia by human migrants, as hunting animals and for food themselves.

But once in Australia, they quickly reproduced and became wild, developing into the modern dingo, Dr Wilton said.

The pure dingo is rapidly disappearing from Australia, with an estimated 80% of dingoes being hybrids.

Dr Wilton warned that unless steps were taken to protect dingoes from continued cross-breeding with domestic dogs, they could be extinct within 50 years.




SEE ALSO:
'Walkies' through dog genome
25 Sep 03  |  Science/Nature
Origin of dogs traced
22 Nov 02  |  Science/Nature
Divisions over dingo cull
22 May 01  |  Asia-Pacific
Britons attacked by dingo
05 May 01  |  Asia-Pacific


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