Dhole - Cuon Alpinism

Dhole – Cuon Alpinism

The dhole (Cuon alpinus) is a canid native to Central, South and Southeast Asia. Other English names for the species include Asiatic wild dog,3Indian wild dog,4whistling dog, red wolf5 (not to be confused with Canis rufus), red dog,6 and mountain wolf.7 It is genetically close to species within the genusCanis,8(Fig. 10) though its skull is convex rather than concave in profile, it lacks a third lower molar,9 and the upper molars sport only a single cusp as opposed to 2–4.5 During the Pleistocene, the dhole ranged throughout Asia, Europe and North America, but became restricted to its historical range 12,000–18,000 years ago.10

The dhole is a highly social animal, living in large clans without rigid dominance hierarchies11 and containing multiple breeding females.12 Such clans usually consist of 12 individuals, but groups of over 40 are known.6 It is a diurnal pack hunter which preferentially targets medium and large sized ungulates.13 In tropical forests, the dhole competes with tigers and leopards, targeting somewhat different prey species, but still with substantial dietary overlap.14

It is listed as Endangered by the IUCN, as populations are decreasing and estimated at less than 2,500 adults. Factors contributing to this decline include habitat loss, loss of prey, competition with other species, persecution, and disease transfer from domestic dogs.2

Etymology and naming

The etymology of dhole is unclear. The earliest possible written use of the word in English occurred in 1808 by soldier Thomas Williamson, who encountered the animal in Ramghur district. He stated that dhole was a common local name for the species.15 In 1827, Charles Hamilton Smith claimed that it was derived from a language spoken in ‘various parts of the East’.16 Two years later, Smith connected this word with Turkish: deli ‘mad, crazy’, and erroneously compared the Turkish word with Old Saxon: dol and Dutch: dol (cfr. also English: dull; German: toll),17 which are in fact from the Proto-Germanic *dwalaz ‘foolish, stupid’.18Richard Lydekker wrote nearly 80 years later that the word was not used by the natives living within the species’ range.4 The Merriam-Webster Dictionary theorises that it may have come from the Kannada: tōḷa (‘wolf’).19

Discovery, taxonomy and evolution

The species was first described in literature in 1794 by an explorer named Pesteref, who encountered dholes during his travels in far eastern Russia. He described the animal as being a regular pack hunter of Alpine ibex, and of bearing many similarities with the golden jackal. It was given the binomial nameCanis alpinus in 1811 by Peter Pallas, who described its range as encompassing the upper levels of Udskoi Ostrog in Amurland, towards the eastern side and in the region of the upper Lena River, though he wrote that it also occurred around the Yenisei River, and that it occasionally crossed into China.2425 This northern Russian range reported by this “nearly impeccable” author Pallas, during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, is “considerably north” of where this species occurs today.26 The British naturalist Brian Hodgson gave the dhole the binomial name Canis primaevus, assuming that it is the progenitor of the domestic dog.27 Hodgson later took note of the dhole’s physical distinctiveness from the genus Canis and assigned it to a new genus Cuon.28

The first study on the origins of the species was conducted by paleontologist Erich Thenius, who concluded that the dhole was a post-Pleistocene descendant of a golden jackal-like ancestor.29 The earliest known member of the genus Cuon is the Chinese C. majori of the Villafranchian period. It resembled Canis in its physical form more than the modern species, which has greatly reduced molars, whose cusps have developed into sharply trenchant points. By the Middle Pleistocene, C. majori had lost the last lower molar altogether. C. alpinus itself arose during the late Middle Pleistocene, by which point the transformation of the lower molar into a single cusped, slicing tooth had been completed. Late Middle Pleistocene dholes were virtually indistinguishable from their modern descendants, save for their greater size, which closely approached that of the grey wolf. The dhole became extinct in much of Europe during the late Würm period,30 though it may have survived up until the early Holocene in the Iberian Peninsula.31 and at Riparo Fredian in northern Italy32 The vast Pleistocene range of this species also included numerous islands in Asia that this species no longer inhabits, such as Sri Lanka, Borneo, and possibly Palawan in the Philippines.3334353637 The fossil record indicates that the species also occurred in North America, with remains being found in Beringia and Mexico.38

The dhole’s distinctive morphology has been a source of much confusion in determining the species’ systematic position among the canidae. George Simpson placed the dhole in the subfamily Simocyoninae alongside the African wild dog and the bush dog, on account of all three species’ similar dentition.39 Subsequent authors, including Juliet Clutton-Brock, noted greater morphological similarities to canids of the genera Canis, Dusicyon and Alopex than to either Speothos or Lycaon, with any resemblance to the latter two being due to convergent evolution.9 Subsequent studies on the canid genome revealed that the dhole and African wild dog are closely related to members of the genus Canis, and that both are more closely related to grey wolves, coyotes, golden wolves, golden jackals and Ethiopian wolves than the more basalblack-backed and side-striped jackals are.8 This closeness to Canis may have been confirmed in a menagerie in Madras where, according to zoologist Reginald Pocock, a dhole interbred with a golden jackal.40


Historically, up to ten subspecies of dhole have been recognised.41 As of 2005[update], only three subspecies are recognised by MSW3.1

Captura de pantalla 2016-02-09 a las 17.29.55

More Info in WIKIPEDIA