A dingo's habitat ranges from deserts to grasslands and the edges of forests. Dingoes will normally make their dens in deserted rabbit holes and hollow logs close to an essential supply of water.
The dingo is the largest terrestrial predator in Australia, and plays an important role as an apex predator. However, the dingo is seen as a pest by sheep farmers due to frequent attacks on livestock. Conversely, their predation on rabbits, kangaroos and rats is of benefit to cattle stations.
For many Australians, the dingo is a cultural icon. There is fear of the species becoming extinct, similar to the case of the thylacine in Tasmania, commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger, thought to have become extinct in the 20th century. The dingo is seen by many as being responsible for thylacine extinction on the Australian mainland about two thousand years ago, although a recent study challenges this view. Dingoes have a prominent role in the culture of Aboriginal Australians as a feature of stories and ceremonies, and they are depicted on rock carvings and cave paintings.
Domestic and pariah dogs in southern Asia share so many characteristics with Australian dingoes that they are now considered to be members of the same taxon Canis lupus dingo, a particular subspecies of Canis lupus. While the relationship with humans varies widely among these animals, they are all quite similar in terms of physical features.
A dingo has a relatively nroad head, a pointed muzzle and erect ears. Eye colour varies from yellow over orange to brown. Compared to other similarly sized familiaris dogs, dingoes have longer muzzles, larger carnassials (large teeth found in many carnivorous mammals), longer canine teeth, and flatter skulls with larger nuchal lines.
Origin and Genetic Status
Since dingoes were the largest wild placental mammals in Australia at the time of colonisation and looked similar to domestic dogs, their origin has always been questioned and much debated. Achaeological and morphological studies indicated a relatively late introduction and a close relationship to other domestic dogs. Their exact descent, place of origin and date of arrival in Australia were not identified, nor whether they had once been domesticated or half-domesticated and had gone feral, or whether they had already existed as truly wild animals.
It is widely held that dingoes have evolved or were bred from the Indian wolf or Arabian wolf around 6,000 to 10,000 years ago, as was assumed for all domestic dogs. This theory was based on the morphological similarities of dingo skulls and the skulls of these subspecies of wolves. However, genetic analyses indicated a much earlier domestication.