Australian dingo is a valid and distinct taxon

A new paper just published in Zootaxa suggested that the Australian dingo should be treated as a distinct species: Canis dingo. This came after another paper published in the same journal two years ago that suggested the opposite (i.e. the dingo is a domesticated dog).

Which view will prevail has many consequences (conservation, management of ‘free-ranging’ dogs,…).


Bradley P. Smith, Kylie M. Cairns, Justin W. Adams, Thomas M. Newsome, Melanie Fillios, Eloïse C. Déaux, William C. H. Parr, Mike Letnic, Lily M. Van Eeden, Robert G. Appleby, Corey J. A. Bradshaw, Peter Savolainen, Euan G. Ritchie, Dale G. Nimmo, Clare Archer-Lean, Aaron C. Greenville, Christopher R. Dickman, Lyn Watson, Katherine E. Moseby, Tim S. Doherty, Arian D. Wallach, Damian S. Morrant, Mathew S. Crowther. 2019. Taxonomic status of the Australian dingo: the case for Canis dingo Meyer, 1793. Zootaxa 4564 (1): 173. DOI: 10.11646/zootaxa.4564.1.6

More details (press release):

Flinders University. Australian dingo is a unique Australian species in its own right. ScienceDaily, 5 March 2019.


  • Vladimir Dinets

    The paper is ridiculous. Taking that approach would mean that dozens of introduced populations of house mouse, black and Norway rats, feral cat, feral horse, feral goat, house and field sparrows, feral pigeon, etc. must all be recognized as full species. The consequences for conservation will be disastrous to put it mildly. I am surprised Zootaxa accepted the manuscript, it used to be a respectable journal.

    • Mohamed Amezian

      Because there is so much at stake with how the dingo is seen and managed, I think it’s actually a good thing that Zootaxa accepted the article. In this way, both points of views can be debated; otherwise the proponents of the alternative point of view may feel silenced using the peer-review process.

      I know that science should not be a question of ‘points of views’ but you get my point.

      • Vladimir Dinets

        I would agree if the paper was scientific, but it is not. It is a political statement that misquotes the sources, misinterprets evidence, and is generally designed to impress the mass media rather than experts. And it succeeded: so far I don’t see any real discussion, the paper is hailed as “the last word from the scientists” by numerous media outlets, while the rebuttal published in the same issue is completely ignored.

  • Joe

    There has already been a rebuttal in the same issue of Zootaxa by authors Stephen M, Jackson, et al.

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