Meet Your Favorite New Artist: The Rare Singing Dog Of Papua New Guinea

You've met dogs who shake hands and roll over. Now meet ones that sing - and that's not the only thing setting the singing dogs of Papua New Guinea apart.

1. They are the most versatile rock stars of the animal kingdom.

(Wikimedia Commons)

New Guinea singing dogs rock out with a variety of distinct vocalizations that sound like a remix of wolf howls and whale songs, with bird-like chirps thrown in, too. According to the New Guinea Singing Dog Conservation Society (the foremost organization in protecting the breed), each "singer" has their own unique voice, and multiple dogs have been known to harmonize together in their daily morning and evening concerts.

2. They live in a crazy inaccessible rain forest.

(Flickr: Marie Hale)

The New Guinea singing dog has only been photographed in the wild twice - and for good reason! Singers live in the seldom-explored rain forests of the island nation of Papua New Guinea and make their homes in the Star Mountain range at elevations of 4,000 to nearly 10,000 feet above sea level.

3. They are uncommonly flexible and agile.

(Wikimedia Commons)

Singers are unusually agile and graceful with physicality more similar cats than dogs. They use their flexible joints to navigate the rugged, almost non-traversable terrain of their remote habitat. Even more bizarre for a dog breed - they can climb trees!

4. They are reclusive cousins of Australian dingos.

(Wikimedia Commons)

It is believed that New Guinea's wild dog populations followed human migration from Australia to New Guinea via a land bridge that has long since flooded. This theory places 10,000-20,000 years of isolated breeding between New Guinea singing dogs and their Australian dingo ancestors, making their DNA a potential window into the evolution of ancient canids.

5. Nobody knows how to classify them

(Wikimedia Commons)

Originally designated a subspecies of dingo in 1957, New Guinea singing dogs' current status as a breed excludes them from the efforts of most traditional conservation organizations. Commonly viewed as domesticated dogs gone feral, little research has been done on these elusive animals, and their population numbers are entirely unknown.

Singers are lumped in with dingos by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and have been designated vulnerable. You can help them by contributing to organizations working to preserve the rain forests of New Guinea.