When researchers set up a camera near a dead animal in the Amazon rain forest, they expected to see vultures feasting. What they caught on video was a total surprise: a rare short-eared dog (Atelocynus microtis).
These rare wild dogs, which are about the size of a fox, have been spotted only in the Amazon basin regions of Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. However, they have been so hard to find that scientists don't yet know how many of them exist or much about their behavior.
"They are very timid, totally different from pets," says Leite Pitman, a researcher at Duke University and a National Geographic grantee. The dog captured in the video appears to check out the camera and then sneaks off.
Unfortunately, scientists believe the dogs' numbers are declining due to loss of rain forest habitat and prey. Domestic dogs in the region can also spread disease to these wild dogs.
Video courtesy Lary Reeves, graduate student at the University of Florida