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Brain size/body weight in the dingo (Canis dingo): Comparisons with domestic and wild canids
journal contributionposted on 27.06.2018, 00:00 by Bradley Smith, TA Lucas, RM Norris, M Henneberg
Endocranial volume was measured in a large sample (n=128) of free ranging dingoes (Canis dingo) where body size was known. The brain/body size relationship in the dingoes was compared to populations of wild (Family Canidae) and domestic canids (Canis familiaris). Despite a great deal of variation among wild and domestic canids, the brain/body size of dingoes forms a tight cluster within the variation of domestic dogs. Like dogs, free ranging dingoes have paedomorphic crania, however it is clear that dingoes have a larger brain and are more encephalised than most domestic breeds of dog. The dingo’s brain/body size relationship was similar to other mesopredators (medium sized predators that typically prey on smaller animals) including the dhole (Cuon alpinus) and the coyote (Canis latrans). These findings have implications for classification of the dingo, the antiquity of the dingo, and ask questions about the impact of feralisation on brain size. At the same time, it highlights the difficulty in using brain/body size to distinguish wild and domestic canids.