The short-eared dog is a little-known species of canid found only in the Amazon Basin. Not much is known about it because it tends to shy away from cameras — and anything that smells like humans. That's why it was a particular surprise when one showed up in front of a camera just 20 minutes after Lary Reeves, conservation biologist and graduate student at the University of Florida, set up a camera on a carcass hoping to capture vulture activity.

Renata Leite Pitman, a researcher at Duke University who has been studying the species for 14 years, has only been able to collar five of them, according to National Geographic.

The short-eared dog, also called the short-eared zorro, is part of the canid family but isn't closely related to either foxes or wolves. After spending a couple million years evolving to live in the rain forest, the species is completely unique. The species is listed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List.

"Leite Pitman and others suspect the dogs' numbers are declining as a result of deforestation and prey depletion — as well as the presence of domestic dogs, which can introduce a host of diseases, such as parvovirus," reports National Geographic.

Jaymi Heimbuch ( @jaymiheimbuch ) focuses on wildlife conservation and animal news from her home base in San Francisco.

Extremely elusive jungle dog captured on camera by accident
The short-eared dog is rarely ever sighted, but a wary individual came in for a close-up on a trail camera originally set up for vultures.