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Fox domestication Living with the wild: interacting with wild foxes Interaction with other Species Small and Medium-sized Mammals Livestock Gamebirds Arctic Foxes and other Carnivores Deer Native Animals in Australia Plants and Invertebrates Questions and Answers Evolution and Early Distribution: Dogs and cats are Carnivorans, that is, they’re members of the taxonomic order Carnivora (note this is different to simply being a carnivore, or meat-eater, which is not a taxonomic grouping), which is one of 29 orders within the class Mammalia.
The large ice sheet that covered most of Canada and the northern fringes of the USA from around 100,000 to 10,000 years ago (during the Wisconsin glaciation) kept the Red foxes in Alaska (the population of which was added to by a second wave of colonisation from Eurasia) separate from those in the southern USA.
So, the result was two isolated populations (or clades): one in Alaska (Holarctic clade) and one in the south (Nearctic clade).
This radiation was probably in response to a vacant niche opening up as the borophagines started to die-out, and not only marked the birth of all the dog species we know today but also heralded the appearance of three modern-day genera in the south-western USA: (true foxes).
In essence, it was around 10 mya that the fox lineage split from the wolf-dog lineage.
There is then something of a hiatus in the vulpine fossil record until the early Pliocene (about 4 mya), with foxes from China and Turkey among the earliest Eurasian specimens.
The origins of our modern-day Red fox (, which lived in southern Europe at the end of the Pliocene, around 2.6 mya – this species was first discovered in deposits from Italy in the late 1800s, but remains were subsequently found in France, Spain and Greece.
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.
When the ice melted the Holarctic clade spread south and east, while the Nearctic clade spread north, the two meeting in central Canada.