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.

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If, at this point, you’re wondering where mammals like mustelids, seals, bears, etc. The evolutionary history of the dog family is still not completely resolved (and may never be, as new fossil finds and molecular techniques offer new insights), but the following is a generally accepted hypothesis.

Readers interested in a more detailed appraisal of dog evolution are directed to Xiaoming Wang and Richard Tedford’s authoritative account in their 2008 book and I recommend the reader visits Wiki Pedia and The Searching Wolf.

When the ice melted the Holarctic clade spread south and east, while the Nearctic clade spread north, the two meeting in central Canada.

Aubry’s data reveal more than just the distribution of foxes in pre-history, it also elucidates the relatedness of the animals currently inhabiting North America (see: Taxonomy).

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.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).Recent work by Louis de Bonis and colleagues at the Université de Poitiers in France has suggested that the foxes and other canids first spread throughout Africa, before invading Europe via a trans-Mediterranean route towards the end of the Miocene.Following the retreat of ice from the last ice age (the Late Glacial) some 15,000 years ago, many of the larger mammal species began to re-appear and extend their range northwards.According to Derek Yalden’s fascinating book, , post-glacial remains of the Red fox have been found at several sites around Britain and suggest that this species re-appeared ‘naturally’ (i.e.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.