PerspectiveEcology

A Pardon for the Dingo

Science  10 Jan 2014:
Vol. 343, Issue 6167, pp. 142-143
DOI: 10.1126/science.1248646

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Summary

The dingo (Canis lupus dingo) has grown accustomed to bad press. Dingoes first set paw in Australia a few millennia ago, possibly in association with the spread of Austronesians into the Pacific. They have since been blamed for snatching babies, killing sheep, and forcing the marsupial thylacine (Thylacinus cynocephalus) and the related devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) into extinction on the Australian mainland. The present-day ecological role of dingoes is still debated (see Ripple et al. on page 151 of this issue) (1), but in a recent article, Prowse et al. (2) propose that Australia's favorite scapegoat can be largely absolved of blame for driving the mainland thylacine and devil to extinction.