A startling revelation was made by DNA studies, which indicate that Indians could have possibly migrated to Australia, to form the Aborginal tribes. And, what did they take with them—a dog that could have been the progenitor of the popular Australian dog, dingo. This possible cross breeding during prehistoric times, has led to what is referred to be as the ‘mystery of the Dingo’.
What’s the Dingo?
The Australian Dingo was first spotted by British colonists. They noted a feral, lean, mid-sized dog, frequently spotted with the natives of Australia. The dog could only defined as partly domesticated as it was never bred for the purposes of domestication. Those who first spotted it said that the dogs associated mostly with the natives, and were shy of ‘new’ people.
Dingos became only one of the many species that were spotted in the flora and fauna-rich country. Yet, the genealogy of the Dingo has invoked many studies that help understand how the world was shaped and understanding the complex pre-history of Australia.
From Wolf to dog
A few believe that the Dingo evolved from wolves like all dogs, but evolved ‘before’ their dog cousins. It could mean that the Dingo can’t even be defined as a dog! This however is only a theory since the evolution and the timing of the Dingo isn’t known for certain.
Though a large number of studies concluded that fact that the Dingo originated in Asia, there are many theories in the air. Some believe that it could have travelled to Australia either from China or Timor or even Indonesian.
A deep DNA analysis however threw up some interesting results. The Dingos unlike their doggie cousins do not possess genes that can digest starch. This gene is common in dogs that were evolved after cultivation became common. It means that the Dingos could have evolved before agriculture was common or they could have remained feral for a long time before they became domesticated.
This DNA evidence rules out that the fact that Indian mariners brought the dog with them to Australia, some say. If it was a domesticated dog, it would be eating bread and rice which is common food in India.
The Indian Paraiah Dog
In spite of the overwhelming anecdotal and genetic evidence, few people can shake away the strong resemblance the Dingo has with Indian Paraiah dog. This dog, named so by Britishers (yet again), means an outsider. This dog too is studied extensively especially as experts search for the very first dog that walked this earth. Like Dingo, we are unsure of the place and time of origin of the Indian paraiah dog. But it has been ascertained as one of the world’s oldest dogs and is known to be native to India and Bangladesh.
A set of theories say that the Indian paraiah dog is the progenitor of the Dingo. While the theory lacks strong evidence, the recent discoveries on possible migration of Dravidians to Australia, makes it stronger. That however, leaves us with a few more questions; Why doesn’t it have a starch digesting gene if it was lovingly carried by Indians to Australia? Did Dingos or paraiahs turn feral after they landed in Australia, and subsequently lost the need to digest starch? Till today, Dingos remain a genetic, archeological and dog lover mystery.
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