Was the fox prehistoric man's best friend?
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.