Dating red zones
During the late Miocene, around 10 mya, something important happened: the third, and for our purposes most important, canid radiation began.
According to Wang and Tedford, the first true foxes appeared in North America late in the Miocene (around 9 mya) and were represented by a small Californian species known as , which was found in the Central African country of Chad and dates to the late Miocene (some 7 mya).Aubry’s data reveal more than just the distribution of foxes in pre-history, it also elucidates the relatedness of the animals currently inhabiting North America (see: Taxonomy).Whenever and wherever this species first appeared, fossil evidence suggests that the modern Red fox has been in North Africa for the last 700,000 years and Europe for at least the last 400,000 years.The origins of our modern-day Red fox (, which lived in southern Europe at the end of the Pliocene, around 2.6 mya – this species was first discovered in deposits from Italy in the late 1800s, but remains were subsequently found in France, Spain and Greece.In their 1982 comparison of Red and Arctic ( comes from the Old World and dates to the early Pleistocene (between 1.8 and 1 mya) of Hungary and, in her 2008 study of Red fox dentition, Polish Academy of Sciences mammalogist Elwira Szuma suggested that the current line evolved either in Asia Minor or North Africa around this time.In Britain, remains of the Red fox have been found in Wolstonian Glacial sediments from Warwickshire, suggesting that they were around between 330,000 and 135,000 years ago.
Following the retreat of ice from the last ice age (the Late Glacial) some 15,000 years ago, many of the larger mammal species began to re-appear and extend their range northwards.
At some point -- by current thinking, around 42 million years ago (mya), during the mid-Eocene -- it appears that the carnivorans split into the two groups, or suborders, that we recognise as cat-like (Feliformia) and dog-like (Caniformia).
If, at this point, you’re wondering where mammals like mustelids, seals, bears, etc. The evolutionary history of the dog family is still not completely resolved (and may never be, as new fossil finds and molecular techniques offer new insights), but the following is a generally accepted hypothesis.
So, the result was two isolated populations (or clades): one in Alaska (Holarctic clade) and one in the south (Nearctic clade).
When the ice melted the Holarctic clade spread south and east, while the Nearctic clade spread north, the two meeting in central Canada.
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