Foxy Friday Factoid
Did you know there is a species of fox that was domesticated by the natives living in the southern most part of South America ? This animal was described by Charles Darwin and was said to be 15-30 lbs. and resemble a small herding dog. The natives used these animals to help them hunt and to help them stay warm. They were known as Fuegian Dogs. Unfortunately, when missionaries began visiting the natives in these part in the late 1800s they proceeded to kill these animals because they attacked their goats. The Fuegian dog became extinct in the early 1900s. Some remains of these animals did survive into the present day and genetic testing has allowed us to identify these animals as a strain of extant South American Fox called a Culpeo or Andean Fox. This fox lives along most of the western coast of South America. While it is called a fox, it is genetically more closely related to animals in the genus Canis, like dogs, than to animals in the genus Vulpes, like the red fox. However it does morphologically resemble a red fox in many ways. It seems as though man’s best friend may of had some competition at one point from the Culpeo.