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Was the fox prehistoric man's best friend?

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A recently published paper, covered in an article on PhysOrg, discusses the discovery of foxes buried along with humans in ancient graves, and moots the possibility that foxes – not dogs – may have been the animal first domesticated as pets by humankind.

Researchers analysing remains at a prehistoric burial ground in Jordan have uncovered a grave in which a fox was buried with a human, before part of it was then transferred to an adjacent grave.

The University of Cambridge-led team believes that the unprecedented case points to some sort of emotional attachment between human and fox. Their paper, published today [Wednesday], suggests the fox may have been kept as a pet and was being buried to accompany its master, or mistress, to the afterlife.

If so, it marks the first known burial of its kind and suggests that long before we began to hunt foxes using dogs, our ancestors were keeping them as pets - and doing so earlier than their canine relatives.

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Nope, he was just a furry...

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I'm not sure if this is true or not. If we were domesticating foxes, why do we not have domestic foxes anymore? Because when we domesticated wolves, we kept domesticating them until they were the dogs we know today. So why didn't we keep domesticating foxes?

Foxes are hard to domesticate because they don't have the pack instinct that wolves had that we took advantage of to domesticate them.

I think this might have been a one time thing, because we have not found other graves like this. Just because the fox was kept as a pet does not mean it was domesticated. Or it could have not been a pet more than just a random fox. It would be hard to know if it was a pet. Correct me if I am wrong, but I don't think any texts have been unearthed that reference domesticated foxes. So this could have just have easily been a ritual, or a tradition, or a request by the deceased to be buried with a fox.

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Actually, we do domesticate foxes; not even counting that Russian science experiment, humans raise foxes for fur by the bajillions.

That being said, I'm mostly agreeing that, yeah, this probably wasn't a case of early fox domestication; I think best case scenario, if it was a pet, it was an orphaned cub adopted by some ancient animal. A one off thing, which still sometimes happens today.

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The article itself suggests the idea that humans attempted to domesticate foxes first (though doesn't suggest why) and then later moved on to more reality domesticat-able species.

I also think, thogh, that this one sample perhaps more likely represents a unique special relationship between an individual human and an individual fox. That's fascinating and kinda beautiful in itself I think.

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Actualy, studies have shown that alot of small breeds such as pomeanians or pekingese are decendants from the fox rather than the wolf. I ghess the two, fox and wolf, were close enough that the decendants of both were able to interbreed.

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Ya I have a friend that has a dog that's a cross between a dog and a fox. I'm not sure what breed of dog though.

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I think it is just a coincidence. Foxes were never a very social species, and never liked to be close to ppl.

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Foxes and Canines can't inter-breed, becuase wolves, coyotes, jackals, and dogs have 78 chromosomes, while foxes have just 38. Most smaller breeds were bred to be smaller. the Pomerenian breed is a spitz-type dog (among the oldest type), and is related to the german shepherd. You can tell a breed is a spitz-type becuase they look similar to wolves (with erect ears and long muzzles).

~ The Legendary RingtailedFox

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a Horse from UK