Down through the decades, I have documented a wide range of canine cryptids, but two of the least-known examples are those presented here, making their ShukerNature debut. One is now a former mystery canid, the other remains an enigma.
A wild dog of once-controversial scientific status was a mysterious specimen discovered on Mount Popa, a dormant volcano in the region of Mandalay in central Burma (now Myanmar). Renowned British zoologist Reginald I. Pocock stated in 1936 that no specimens of Asia's very distinctive wild red dog or dhole Cuon alpinus had ever been obtained from Burma, but shortly afterwards he learnt that acclaimed mammalogist and animal collector Guy C. Shortridge had secured a specimen on Mount Popa.
Naturally, Pocock was anxious to examine this unique example, an adult female, especially as Shortridge alleged that it only had five pairs of teats (female dholes have 6-8 pairs), and weighed only 19 lb (unusually light for a dhole). However, after studying its skull, uncovered at the British Museum, Pocock recognized that it had been nothing more than an old, small domestic dog Canis familiaris, with a high crown and short muzzle. But, ironically, genuine Burmese dholes were obtained later, and in 1941 Pocock christened their subspecies C. a. adustus – a taxonomic classification still recognised today.
As for the yokyn – this still-unexplained canine cryptid is a strange dog-like beast reputedly well-known to Australian aboriginals and farmers. Said to be approximately half the size of a full-grown dingo, with disproportionately long claws, a stocky, muscular build, and a very variable pelage (sometimes brindled, sometimes even multi-coloured), a specimen has yet to be formally examined, so its identity remains uncertain (Fate, May 1977; also click here for additional details online).
An unknown species, an odd type of feral domestic dog, a dingo Canis dingo (aka C. lupus dingo aka C. familiaris dingo), a dog-dingo crossbreed, and even a surviving mainland race of the marsupial Tasmanian wolf Thylacinus cynocephalus are among those identities on offer. If anyone reading this ShukerNature article has further information concerning the yokyn, I'd love to receive details.
This ShukerNature article is excerpted and updated from my book Extraordinary Animals Revisited.