Fox bones at ancient burial site suggest animal may have been kept as pet

Last Updated: June 21, 2024By

Mystery Unearthed: The Tale of the Ancient Patagonian Fox


In the dusty plains of Argentina, a peculiar discovery has stirred the curiosity of researchers: the remains of a fox found nestled among human bones at an ancient burial ground. This fox, dating back a whopping 1,500 years, has raised eyebrows and wagged tails, hinting at a bond between humans and animals deeper than we once thought.


The experts reckon this fox was no ordinary wild critter. Nope, it seems it might have held a special place in the hearts of the folks it cohabited with. Ophélie Lebrasseur from the University of Oxford and Cinthia Abbona from the National Council for Scientific and Technical Research in Argentina, both leading the investigation, suspect this fox was more than just a furry neighbor.


“Maybe it was like the community mascot, or maybe it was laid to rest alongside its pals, the humans it had a special bond with,” pondered Ophélie.


The tale unfolds from a dig way back in 1991 at the ancient resting place of Cañada Seca, where hunter-gatherer tribes once roamed. Alongside human remains, the team unearthed the nearly complete skeleton of a fox-like critter. Initially dubbed as a common fox, further digging – both literally and figuratively – revealed it to be Dusicyon Avus, a hefty fox breed about the size of your average German shepherd. Surprisingly, this fox hadn’t been spotted in those parts before.


But why was this fox buried among humans? Well, there’s no sign it ended up as dinner, and the bones seem carefully placed, not scattered about willy-nilly. Radiocarbon dating pinned its existence to the same era as the human inhabitants – a true ancient roommate.

And get this: when the researchers peeked into the fox’s diet through stable isotope analysis, they found something wild. This fox wasn’t just munching on meat; it had a taste for the same grub as the humans, maybe even sneaking some maize when no one was looking.

This isn’t the first time a fox buddy has been found bunking with ancient humans in Argentina. A similar discovery in Buenos Aires province hinted at a close bond between foxes and humans way back when.

Dr. Alejandro Serna from the University of York, who’s all clued up on Patagonian hunter-gatherers, thinks this discovery sheds new light on how our ancestors cozied up with critters. He reckons if dogs could snag special treatment, why not these fox pals?

So, there you have it – a fox from the annals of time, sharing secrets with ancient humans in the dusty lands of Argentina. Who said history was dull?

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