with Horse and Hound

Bronze Age Humans Domesticated Foxes, Scientists Say

hading home.beth carlsonFox painting by Beth Carlson

The Iberian Peninsula comprises that territory at the southwest corner of Europe, consisting mostly of Spain and Portugal, a sliver of France, and at its southernmost tip, the British territory of Gibraltar. In the northeast of that huge peninsula, between the third and second millennium BC, a widespread funeral practice of burying animals with humans was discovered. At two excavation sites of Early to Middle Bronze Age tombs, four foxes and a large number of dogs were found together with their dead humans in large burial silos.

Aurora Grandal-d’Anglade, co-author of a study on the relationship between humans and dogs through their diet published in the journal Archaeological and Anthropological Sciences said, “We discovered that in some cases the dogs received a special kind of food. We believe this is linked to their function as working dogs. Besides, one of the foxes shows signs of having already been a domestic animal in those times.”

In their studies, scientists compared the diets of the buried animals with those of their humans and the diets were found to be similar. In one of the sites, the foxes showed a varied diet—in some cases similar to the dogs, in another case, more like that of a wild animal with little human contact.

One fox at the other site was special. It was old, with a broken leg only partially healed, and signs it had been immobilized by humans! The feeding was unusual as well, consisting of that which would have been fed to dog puppies. Grandal believes the fox was a domestic animal that had lived with humans for a long time.

At the time, large dogs were used for transporting loads. Those dogs were fed special cereal-rich diets. The same diet had been fed to one of the foxes.

Men of the times apparently ate more meat than did the women. The dogs and foxes were probably fed leftovers and their diets were more similar to those of the women and children than those of the men.

The information above was furnished by FECYT (Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology). Click for more details as published by ScienceDaily.com.

Posted October 2, 2020