Dusicyon, Protocyon, Theriodictis, Falkland Islands wolf, Sardinian dhole
Dusicyon avus is an extinct species in the genus Dusicyon. Dusicyon avus was medium to large, about the size of a German shepherd (about 13 kg). Its scientific name means "ancestor of the foolish dog". It was closely related to the warrah or Falkland Islands wolf.
Dusicyon avus lived in the south-central and southern parts of South America.
Its diet included South American mammals, unlike the warrah, whose diet was restricted to the seabirds available on the Falkland Islands.
Relationship to humans
A grave of the late second millennium BCE at Loma de los Muertos in General Conesa, Río Negro Argentina) contains a sub-adult D. avus, buried in a human mortuary context in a comparable manner to adjacent human burials. It may have been kept as a pet and been considered part of the human social group.
Dusicyon avus appears to have become extinct around 1000 BCE. There are, however, possibilities that it became extinct as recently as 500 – 300 years BP.
It is possible but as yet unproven that some populations of D. avus may have persisted until the time of European contact. 40 years before the introduction of the gray fox on Tierra del Fuego, there are some ethnographic references to the existence of two species of foxes there. Around 1900, the indigenous Ona were recorded as recognizing two varieties of foxes, one of which grew to unusual size. If the "big fox" was D. avus, this would indicate that it survived until the twentieth century, at least in this location.
The teeth of Dusicyon avus were used in a religious context in aboriginal settlements in Buenos Aires.