Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Yamana natives "Fuegian Dog" - Tierra del Fuego (update)

The Anuario Hidrográfico de la Marina de Chile, Vol 6, page 50, published in 1880, reports different expeditions sent by the Chilean Navy to map and explore their coastline, including southern Patagonia.

One of the reports mentions the Fuegian dog, the dog of the canoe people. Which may either be Yaghans (Yamana) or Alakaluf (Kaweskar) natives.

The text is the following (bold font mine):

"A species of Canis familiaris accompanies the Fuegian indians on all of their excursions along the channels, it breeds in the wild in Tierra del Fuego. It is a small animal, but very fierce and it is very useful for the Fuegian, and for this reason they appreciate it a lot; it seems to be the outcome of a crossbreding of the Canis familiaris with the Canis magellanicus due to its similarity with the latter".

This same account was given by the Chilean governor in Punta Arenas, on the Strait of Magellan in his Tierra del Fuego and its Native Peoples memoir of the Governor of Magallanes, Manuel Señoret, 1896 (in Spanish). Who wrote:

"The Fuegian dog is abundant and an aid to the indians, its origin seems to be a mixture of dog and fox, and is an interesting scientific problem not yet solved.".

Canis magellanicus (photo by Brian Ralphs) is one of Patagonia's foxes, now it is known as "Lycopex culpaeus magellanicus", it is a subspecies of the culpeo fox.

Its body is about 80 cm long, with a tail 44 cm long. Height 42 cm and weight around 7.5 to 8.5 kg.

This dog, of the canoe people should not be mistaken for the other native (?) dogs of southern Patagonia. Apparently there were different dogs in Pre-Hispanic Patagonia:

  1. A large wolf-lik dog, used by Tehuelches, Aonikenk and Selknam people.
  2. A smaller one, the fox-like Fuegian canoe people's dog.
  3. And yet another one, small, with long curly hair of the extinct Chono canoe people of the Chilean fjords.

This is a photograph of a Yaghan dog ( image from page 332 of "Arkiv för zoologi" (1918-1920)

Text Appearing Before Image: "ETNAU LÖNNBERG, SOME SOUTH AMERICAN CANID. 13 is triangular, and in Ps. lycoides somewhat pentagonal, although perhaps less so than in most other South American Canidce. The dentition is different throughout. The Yaghan dog has comparatively larger incisors; its canines are shorter and stouter than in Ps. lycoides and rnagellanicus. In the Yaghan dog p^ is provided with a small posterior cusp and in p^ such a one is still better developed, while such cusps appear to be missing in the Ps. magellanicus-gTou-p. The difference..."

Text Appearing After Image: "Fig. 3. Skull of the Yaghan dog seen from the side. in shape of the upper carnassial {p^) is very important, as it seems. Its heel is much better developed in the Yaghan dog, and it is directed inwards in such a way that it forms a right angle against the longitudinal axis of the tooth itself. The inner end of the heel comes thus rather far behind the transversal line connecting the anterior ends of p^ of both sides. The shape of m^ is also different as in the Yaghan dog its longitudinal diameter is 78, i % of its transverse diameter, while in Ps. lycoides the same percentage is a little more than 68, and in Ps. magellanicus about 65 as far as my material admits any judgment. These relative dimensions of m^ of the Yaghan dog agree thus much better with the corresponding ones of Canis aureus viz. 74,4—80%,"

More posts will follow...

Patagonian Monsters - Cryptozoology, Myths & legends in Patagonia Copyright 2009-2019 by Austin Whittall © 

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