Join our zoo community

Honshu Wolf

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Crowthorne, 13 May 2016.

  1. Crowthorne

    Crowthorne Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    13 Jan 2014
    Posts:
    413
    Location:
    Buckinghamshire, UK
    Have been in a recently-extinct animal mood lately, doing a little reading and research into the usual species (thylacine, huia etc was very excited to watch video of wild kouprey on Arkive), and in my reading came across this blogpost about the Honshu Wolf, which has some very intriguing photographs taken by a Japanese wolf researcher in 1996

    Howls In The Night: One Man’s Quest For The Japanese Wolf | Mysterious Universe

    [​IMG]

    (I'll just link rather than embed the next two as they are very large)

    http://mysteriousuniverse.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/17-19l.jpg

    http://mysteriousuniverse.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/15-19l.jpg

    I'll admit, the animal does look somewhat different to a normal wolf, and I would love if it was a Honshu Wolf. Shame the photos are 20 years old now, and so long since there has been any further developments that I'm aware of.

    Has anyone come across these pictures before, or know any more about them? Does anyone think these could be pictures of a Honshu Wolf?
     
  2. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    16,982
    Location:
    omnipresent
    those are great photos. I've never looked much at the Honshu wolf and always just assumed it had indeed been extinct for a hundred years. But those photos and article definitely suggest otherwise!

    (Although I got a bit side-tracked with other pages on the site about WW1 Hell Hounds and Bigfoots with cloaking devices and Argentinian presidents adopting children so they won't turn into werewolves).
     
  3. Andrew_NZP

    Andrew_NZP Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20 Mar 2016
    Posts:
    316
    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    Why did those side-track you? You read it on the internet.

    Are you trying to tell me that people lie on the internet?????
     
  4. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    13 Jun 2007
    Posts:
    16,982
    Location:
    omnipresent
    they side-tracked me because ... I was side-tracked by them. I'm not sure you know what being side-tracked means?
     
  5. Andrew_NZP

    Andrew_NZP Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    20 Mar 2016
    Posts:
    316
    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    Now I do.

    I was thinking of something else from earlier and well yeah nvm I'm stupid.
     
  6. HJoe

    HJoe Member

    Joined:
    21 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    14
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    I've seen these photos before and they have me extremely convinced. There's absolutely no other living wolf subspecies that looks quite like that and it's definitely not a domestic dog. This wolf has a very "primitive" look about it, especially in the head shape, that I've never seen any dog breeds retain.

    Unfortunately, given Honshu's minute size, swift urban expansion, and how long ago these photos were taken (without having any evidence as concrete as this since then), I have my doubts they're still around... Given how close this wolf was seen to a road, you'd also think at least a few would be found as roadkill.
     
  7. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2013
    Posts:
    1,112
    Location:
    Baltic Sea
    I don’t know; the animal on the photos looks quite like a straying Shikoku(-ken) to me.
     
  8. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    25 Jan 2006
    Posts:
    7,044
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Holland
    I beg to differ. It sure is not a Shikoku.

    See this true dog breed kennel: http://www.shikoku-ken.org/


    AKA: There is some plausibility about these (recent) records from deep into forested parts of Japan's Honshu Island.

    I am somewhat puzzled this has not been picked up locally by natural historians or zoologists with universities, science departments or NGO's and zoos in Japan.
     
  9. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2013
    Posts:
    1,112
    Location:
    Baltic Sea
    @Kifaru Bwana: :D I personally know and have met Shikokus in real life; one of Europe's best breeders (from the Netherlands) is actually a good acquaintance of mine.
    Home

    It might not be a pedigree standard Shikoku-ken; but I think it is more likely to be one (or a Shikoku-mix) than a somehow mysteriously surviving Honshu wolf. The lack of official interest that you bring up and that the (admirably dedicated) Mr. Yagi has so far failed to bring any true evidence to the table after decades of search only suggests that stray dogs might be the best explaination. Even the term "surviving descendants of the Honshu wolf" could be interpreted as cautious considerations (as all dogs are somewhat wolf descendents).
     
    Last edited: 23 May 2016
  10. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    16,546
    Location:
    england
    To me the body shape of the photographed animal resembles more a dog of some type- it is reminiscent of the Australian dingo in its shape with fairly short legs and overall stocky build- wolves are normally rangy in shape
    and long-legged and I would expect the Honshu wolf to follow that general body outline, even it was smaller or had other particular characteristics.
     
  11. HJoe

    HJoe Member

    Joined:
    21 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    14
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    Surviving taxidermy specimens aren't exactly of high quality but they all share certain qualities in common, including short legs:

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/74/Honshu-wolf4.jpg

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bc/Japanese_Wolf.jpg

    http://www.geocities.jp/canisyagi/photo/image/ra_12.jpg

    However, it is possible that the canid in Yagi's photos isn't a "pure" wolf. Frequent mention is made of "yama-inu" (literally 'mountain dog') in many old Japanese texts, often in explicit reference to feral dogs, although some take this as merely a synonym for the Honshu wolf ("ookami"). Feral dogs could very likely have interbred with the wolves over time, though, potentially developing into a hybrid that has survived after the pure-blooded wolf's extinction. I can't find much in detail on the subject of "yama-inu", no less in English, but it's a possible theory I think.

    Shikoku-ken (or other Japanese spitz-like breeds) might have played a part in creating these hypothetical hybrids, but if they had I think their genetic influence has been mostly washed out. Although Shikoku-ken can sometimes have uncurled tails, there's still little evidence of their characteristic markings and much more pointed ears in Yagi's canid. And again, there's still that strange skull shape.
     
  12. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2013
    Posts:
    1,112
    Location:
    Baltic Sea
    Just as in all the other Japanese spitz-like breeds, their tails pretty much uncurl when they are stressed, scared, running away etc.; not to mention local form such the San-in Shiba Inu [on a personal note: I have kept Inu specimens for almost two decades by now]. As for markings, pointed ears etc.: see my remark regarding non-pedigree standard specimens. I doubt that a high-end international champion grade Shikoku-ken would be a likely candidate; a stray Shikoku (or even more so, a mutt with some Shikoku ancestry) might be way more plausible. I have seen several similar “strange“ skull shapes in Japanese dogs, even once in a Shiba Inu directly imported from Japan.
    If you believe that other Japanese native breeds have been washed out of these “wolf descendants“, then what dogs have bred in - German shepherd dogs?
     
    Last edited: 24 May 2016
  13. HJoe

    HJoe Member

    Joined:
    21 Mar 2011
    Posts:
    14
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    I actually didn't know that about spitz-like breeds. That certainly does put some odds in their favor. Also, do you have any images of similarly-shaped skulls in Japanese breeds? I'd like to see the comparisons.

    But as you brought up yourself, I imagine a lot of them were mutts. I doubt any particular breeds constituted major proportions of the hypothetical hybrids' ancestry, and if any had I think they all might have just blended together over time into something more nondescript. None of the traits of this canid strike me as deriving from any specific breeds.

    Again, this is just a theory. I don't think Shikokus specifically would have been significant in creating the hybrids - I'm sure there were some in there, but Japan has a great deal of both native and introduced breeds, and even more mutts and mixes.

    Maybe Yagi's canid really is just an oddly-shaped mutt with little to no Honshu wolf ancestry, but it still looks very convincing. A lot of the signs are there, and I'd still like to believe either hybrids or the real deal have survived into at least the late 20th century, and maybe further.
     
  14. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    25 Jan 2006
    Posts:
    7,044
    Location:
    Amsterdam, Holland
    Cryptozoology is a somewhat peculiar science accolade and usually attracts a broad spectrum of pseud-specialists into a realm for which they lack the proper scientific background or training or capacity to acquire that discipline.

    In this particular case, whereas I cannot fully dismiss these records with 100 certainty, I continue but be more than somewhat perturbed - if not alarmed - that I cannot seem to find anything as to the methods used by this cryptic Honshu wolf club.

    So, if decades have passed without any concrete and real physical evidence of Honshu wolves as per the usual and known natural history museum collections' specimens and this group has not used any tested methods of recording sight / evidence of their continued existence with rigorous methodologies (e.g. sound recordings, capture-recapture process, well modelled and executed camera trap studies) in order to either document and / or corroborate former records with said and purported new sightings or records one can only treat this as highly questionable.

    Still I have to agree with HJoe that this is certainly not your usual dog hybrid. Bringing up the example of the Australian dingo as done here by Pertinax is most certainly an interesting one to consider. What the animal in the photograph really is - to me - thus still lies all open.
     
  15. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2013
    Posts:
    1,112
    Location:
    Baltic Sea
    Unfortunately, I didn't take a photo of that particular Shiba Inu back then. There exist some online Jomon Shiba Inu pics showing similar skulls.

    I would recommend you and other readers of these lines to take a closer look at the next Shikoku-kens you meet in real life to compare for resemblance.

    Furthermore, I agree with Kifaru Bwana; unlike the dingy "monster hunting" popular cryptozoology is so fond of, searching for a known "Lazarus" species should attract more official and professional attention and thus higher quality of research. The lack of such (and any further conclusive results) argues against the validity of these photos and the claim of currently surviving Honshu Wolves).
     
  16. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    16,546
    Location:
    england
    I note from the photos of museum specimens that you provided above that the Honshu wolf was indeed relatively short legged.

    But I think your theory about hybridisation is a more credible one- as the Honshu wolf became increasingly rare the remainder would have possibly bred with domestic dogs so that they became bred out of existence, but there could still be hybrids about. As Spitz breeds are common in Japan, its likely they would have played some part in that. The photos still show the legs and body of this 'wolf' are quite stocky, more so than the slender eqivalents in a wolf I think. The tail doesn't resemble that of a(pure) Spitz type breed of dog either (even uncurled they usually carry a sideways 'kink' which this doesn't have.) though a curled tail would be a trait not necessarily carried by a hybrid anyway. Unfortunately the coat appears wet so any coat/pelage characteristics are masked rather.

    I'm really not sure if its Wolf, Hybrid or Dog- my inclination says Hybrid.





    .
     
  17. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2013
    Posts:
    1,112
    Location:
    Baltic Sea
    I disagree, based on personal observation. In some specimens, the "kink" is not visible when uncurled-especially when the curl is not very prominent.
     
  18. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    5 Dec 2006
    Posts:
    16,546
    Location:
    england
    I did say 'usually' which allows some variation there. But this animal seems to have a quite short tail too. Spitz or no spitz, I still think a hybrid is the most likely.
     
  19. Batto

    Batto Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    3 Sep 2013
    Posts:
    1,112
    Location:
    Baltic Sea
    Fair point. As for personal inclination, I'd go for stray mutt(s).