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and is thought to stem from the now extinct small fox-like , which lived in North America.
During the late Miocene, around 10 mya, something important happened: the third, and for our purposes most important, canid radiation began.
In their 1982 comparison of Red and Arctic ( comes from the Old World and dates to the early Pleistocene (between 1.8 and 1 mya) of Hungary and, in her 2008 study of Red fox dentition, Polish Academy of Sciences mammalogist Elwira Szuma suggested that the current line evolved either in Asia Minor or North Africa around this time.
As fox populations rose in Eurasia, those in North America appear to have dwindled.
Previously it was believed that the first modern Red foxes (i.e.
) to appear on the continent migrated (again, presumably across the Bering land bridge) from Europe at the end of the Pleistocene (around 1 mya) and, from here, Red and Arctic foxes colonised much of North America.
Evolution and Early Distribution Taxonomy North American Red foxes British Red foxes Size Appearance and Colour Samson foxes Distribution Habitat Abundance Ageing and Longevity Mortality and Disability Parasites and Diseases Sexing Activity Dens/Earths and Resting Sites Senses Vision Hearing Smell Touch Territoriality and Home Range Predators Food and Feeding Types of prey consumed Prey switching The influence of age and sex on diet How much food?
So, the result was two isolated populations (or clades): one in Alaska (Holarctic clade) and one in the south (Nearctic clade).
without any obvious assistance from humans) around 10,000 years ago.
Indeed, other fossil data imply that the ice forced foxes into the warmer southern regions of Europe (e.g.
Iberia, Italy, southern France, etc.) for only a (geologically) brief period, after which they quickly returned to central Europe and Britain; at the time, the UK was connected to the European continent.
The flooding of the Doggerland ‘bridge’ around 6,500 years ago isolated Britain’s foxes from those in Europe, putting an end to any natural mixing of the populations.
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According to Wang and Tedford, the first true foxes appeared in North America late in the Miocene (around 9 mya) and were represented by a small Californian species known as , which was found in the Central African country of Chad and dates to the late Miocene (some 7 mya).