Were ancient foxes far more carnivorous than recent ones?—Carnassial morphological evidence

Autoři: Elwira Szuma aff001;  Mietje Germonpré aff002
Působiště autorů: Mammal Research Institute Polish Academy of Sciences, Białowieża, Poland aff001;  Operational Direction “Earth and History of Life”, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences, Brussels, Belgium aff002
Vyšlo v časopise: PLoS ONE 15(1)
Kategorie: Research Article
doi: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0227001


Crown shape variation of the first lower molar in the arctic (Vulpes lagopus) and red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) was analyzed using five groups of morphotypes. Carnassial morphologies were compared between the species and between spatially and temporally distant populations: one Late Pleistocene (n = 45) and seven modern populations of the arctic fox (n = 259), and one Late Pleistocene (n = 35) and eight modern populations of the red fox (n = 606). The dentition of Holocene red foxes had larger morphotype variability than that of arctic foxes. The lower carnassials of the red fox kept have some primitive characters (additional cusps and stylids, complex shape of transverse cristid), whereas the first lower molars of the arctic fox have undergone crown shape simplification, with the occlusal part of the tooth undergoing a more pronounced adaptation to a more carnivorous diet. From the Late Pleistocene of Belgium to the present days, the arctic fox’s crown shape has been simplified and some primitive characters have disappeared. In the red fox chronological changes in the morphology of the lower carnassials were not clearly identified. The phyletic tree based on morphotype carnassial characteristics indicated the distinctiveness of both foxes: in the arctic fox line, the ancient population from Belgium and recent Greenland made separate branches, whereas in the red foxes the ancient population from Belgium was most similar to modern red foxes from Belgium and Italy.

Klíčová slova:

Belgium – Dentition – Foxes – Mammals – Molars – Paleobiology – Pleistocene epoch – Teeth


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