A History of the Binomial Classification of the Polynesian Native Dog

Abstract

quarter of the eighteenth century to the present to give a binomial classification to the Poly-nesian native dog. Taxonomic interest has been expressed mainly by German and British natural scientists. Most of them, having neither seen a living Polynesian dog of unquestioned native breed nor studied skeletal material from a dog presumed to be of native breed, have had to de-pend on a few generalized descriptions by ex-plorers and settlers. Presented here are the taxonomists ' classifications and theories, the de-scriptions that they have cited, and the probable sources and dependability of any of their un-acknowledged information about the appearance of the Polynesian native dog. This paper results from my interest, mostly anthropological and mythological, in the Poly-nesian native dog. Polynesians in New Zealand, the Tuamorus, and the Hawaiian Islands narrate variants of a myth that the demigod Maul-of-a-thousand-tricks transformed a man he hated into a dog, the first known to them and a symbol of abhorred traits like gluttony, laziness, and incest. A story, entirely different from this, that Samoans and Tongans tell, of how Maui died when he attempted to kill a cave-dwelling, man-eating dog, is probably a post-European com-position since the dog was apparently absent from western Polynesia at the time of European discovery (Luomala, 1958). Polynesians had am-bivalent attitudes toward the dog, for it was both a symbol of the social outcast and a symbol of prestige that through its varied uses increased the status of its owner (Luomala, 1960). The dog was present at the time of European discovery of Polynesia in only a few archipela

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