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A couple of million years later the dogs started arriving in Eurasia, and the Pliocene (4-5 mya) saw the dogs spread into Africa and South America.

Around six mya, the first wolf-like dog arrived in western Europe.

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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.

Whenever and wherever this species first appeared, fossil evidence suggests that the modern Red fox has been in North Africa for the last 700,000 years and Europe for at least the last 400,000 years.

In Britain, remains of the Red fox have been found in Wolstonian Glacial sediments from Warwickshire, suggesting that they were around between 330,000 and 135,000 years ago.

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.(Back to Menu) Taxonomy: Many texts on fox natural history cannot help but draw comparisons between the fox and the cat and, if you spend any time watching them, you’re certainly struck by how similarly they behave: both have the same delicate, tripping gait; both stalk and pounce in much the same way; both sit and sleep with tails curled around their bodies; both twitch tail tips to allow young to practice hunting; both will use a paw to scoop unwary fish out of a garden pond.Anatomically, however, foxes have the large ears, the long pointed muzzle, the 42 teeth and the non-retractable claws (five on forefeet and four on hind) that we typically associate with dogs, although they do share the vertically-slit pupils commonly associated with cats (larger canids, such as wolves and domestic dogs, have round pupils).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.Briefly, the creature that taxonomists currently think gave rise to modern-day dogs was a medium-sized (about the size of a coyote) grassland predator of North America called that appeared during the late Eocene, some 36 mya.

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