9 Jun 2015

Red Fox probably originated in the Middle East

Currently recognized as a single species, the Red Fox Vulpes vulpes has the widest natural distribution of any terrestrial carnivore, possibly any terrestrial mammal. Its range spans approximately 70 million square kilometres encompassing much of Europe, Asia and North America and extending into North Africa, with an introduced population in Australia. The Red Fox occupies a wide variety of ecosystems, including forests, grasslands, deserts and agricultural and human-dominated environments. Interestingly a recent study (see paper detail below) was conducted providing the most geographically and genomically comprehensive study to date of the Red Fox. Analysis from this study, including mitochondrial sequence of 1000 individuals suggested an ancient Middle Eastern origin for all extant Red Foxes with demographic analyses indicated a major expansion in Eurasia during the last glaciation 50,000 years ago. This was concluded as the most basal mtDNA lineages primarily occurred in the Middle East, suggesting that the red fox could have arisen in that region.
Arabian Red Fox

Arabian Red Fox

Arabian Red Fox



M. J. Statham et al. 2014. Range-wide multilocus phylogeography of the red fox reveals ancient continental divergence, minimal genomic exchange and distinct demographic histories. Molecular Ecology 23; 4813–4830.

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