Friday, September 6, 2013


Dusicyon australis
We've read here many times about all of the different island bird species that went extinct after modern humans settled in their homelands. But did you know that many mammals were affected as well? The Dusicyon, also known as the Warrah, is one of those mammals.

Dusicyon australis was at one point the only mammal species on the Falkland Islands. These dogs fed on the birds that lived there, and there is some controversy on how they managed to be the only mammals on the islands. They may have reached the islands several thousand years ago along with the first human inhabitants, but they may have also crossed over during the last Ice Age when freezing way have created an ice bridge. Either way, they are are distinct from any other living canine-- their closest living relatives are the Maned Wolves, but they diverged some 6 million years ago!

Also known as the Falkland Islands Wolf, these small canines were described by Charles Darwin in 1833. He predicted their extinction, as they were poisoned to keep sheep safe, hunted for their fur, and had little innate fear of man, making them easy to capture and kill (a problem also had by the Dodo). By 1876 Darwin was proven right, as that was the year that last known Dusicyon died. A few were taken for captivity, but none lasted long, and only a few specimens can be found in museums today.

Status : Extinct since 1876
Location : Falkland Islands
Size : Body Length up to 3ft (.9m)
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Canidae -- Genus : †Dusicyon  -- Species : †D. australis
Image : George R. Waterhouse

1 comment:

  1. How interesting; I love history on animals and this one definitely caught my attention! As a dog lover, thank you for sharing.


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