Australia: The Land Where Time Began

A biography of the Australian continent 

The Dingo                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The conclusion arrived at by Prof. Macintosh of Sydney University after studying dingoes for several years is that its origins are enigmatic. Gollen concluded from his study of the dingo that it is most closely related to the Indian pariah dog, those from Burzahom in Kashmir, and especially with the domesticated dogs found in the ruins of Harappa of the Indus civilisation that date from about 3500-4000 years ago. Corbett concluded, based on a study of Asian canid skulls that the dingo is almost indistinguishable from those of wild dogs from Asia and Southeast Asia, all of which descended from the Indian wolf (Canis lupus pallipes).

Some believe that the dingo, that was brought to Australia about 4000 years ago, was domesticated or semidomesticated in Australia,  the feral population descending from these original dingoes. Among the Aboriginal People, especially women who had recently lost a child or couldn't have children or were past child-bearing age,  the pups were often taken from the wild as substitutes for children because of the requirement of the harsh environment to keep the population low. Childless women often carried a dingo pup wrapped around their waist. In the desert the nights are often cold, especially in winter the night temperatures can go below freezing. The dogs also took the place of blankets under these conditions. In the desert areas of Australia very cold nights are called a "5-dog-night".

Burials of dingoes have been found in middens at a number of places, such as Kiola and Murramarang in New South Wales, in Victoria at Mallacoota. The fact that some dingoes were buried indicates that they were often valued. The dingoes that lived with the Aboriginal People were taken from the wild as pups and eventually returned to the wild.

It appears to be at the time the dingo is thought to have arrived in Australia that the native carnivores such as the thylacine and Tasmanian devil became extinct on the mainland, only surviving in Tasmania where the dingo never reached.

The Dingo - Domesticated Dogs

Sources & Further reading

  1. Flood, Josephine, 2004, Archaeology of the Dreamtime, JB Publications.


Genetic variation in the Australian Dingo

Author: M. H. Monroe
Last updated: 30/09/2011
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