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Dingoes, Like Wolves, Are Smarter Than Pet Dogs

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by Lin Edwards For Physorg.com

The dingo is considered a “pure” prehistoric dog, which was brought to Australia tens of thousands of years ago by the Aborigines. While they have in the past been associated with humans, they have adapted to surviving “wild” in the Australian outback. The dingo lies somewhere between the wolf, its ancient ancestor, and the domestic or pet dog, and has cognitive differences between the two.

There has been little research done on dingoes, even though studies would aid in the understanding of the evolution of dogs, and it was unknown whether the dingo was more “wolf-like” or “dog-like”.

Researchers in South Australia have now subjected the Australian dingo (Canis dingo) to the classic “detour task,” which has been used by previous researchers to assess the abilities of wolves (Canis lupus) and domestic dogs (Canis familiaris) to solve non-social, spatial problems.

The detour task involves placing a treat behind a transparent or wire mesh fence. The dog can see the food but cannot get to it directly and has to find its way along the fence and through a door and then double back to get the food.

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