Dogs weren't always man's best friend, study finds

Dogs weren't always man's best friend, study finds

According to new research, foxes once ruled the roost as humans' favorite pets.
source-image
Feb 28, 2011
By dvm360.com staff

A prehistoric discovery in a Middle Eastern cemetery revealed that humans may have kept foxes as pets—and even brought them into their graves—long before dogs entered the picture. Researches at the University of Cambridge in England say the ancient graveyard in northern Jordan is about 16,500 years old, before humans were thought to have domesticated animals.

The site revealed that a fox found buried with a human appeared to have been treated differently than the other animals buried at the site. This led researchers to believe a special social relationship existed between the humans and the fox buried there. Details of the find were published in the January issue of PLoS ONE.

According to researchers, although foxes are relatively easy to tame, domesticating them might have failed because of their skittish and timid nature. This might explain why dogs ultimately achieved man’s best friend status instead. However, fox symbolism and fox remains are common in later Stone Age sites, both in domestic and burial contexts. So, researchers say, even when other animals were domesticated, prehistoric people maintained an interest in the fox.

Hot topics on dvm360

Vetcetera: The complex topic of canine fear-related aggression

A guided tour of resources for addressing this popular and complicated subject, featuring advice from Dr. John Ciribassi.

Reality TV and the veterinarian: Discussing mainstream dog training advice with clients

Your clients may be getting behavior advice from cable TV. Get your opinion in the mix.

Blog: Election results pose obstacles for veterinary prescription law

Flip in U.S. Senate's majority may slow progress of Fairness to Pet Owners Act.

The war between shelters, veterinarians needs to end

Despite practitioners’ legitimate gripes, they’re hurting themselves.

7 steps to a better relationship between veterinarians and rescue groups

A DVM in the city shares his advice to veterinary practices for working with rescues.