Unraveling the fossil record of foxes: An updated review on the Plio-Pleistocene Vulpes spp. from Europe

Saverio Bartolini Lucenti*, Joan Madurell-Malapeira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Fossil foxes, genus Vulpes, are known since the Late Miocene of North America and the Old World but their record is utterly scarce, fragmentary, and referred to a number of different species, often of uncertain affinity. Although the European Pleistocene fossil record of foxes is relatively more abundant, several species were described on the basis of partial, scanty or incomplete specimens. Among them Vulpes alopecoides, V. praeglacialis and V. praecorsac. Here we describe in detail the holotype of V. alopecoides further including in the hypodigm of this species the only complete cranium of the European fossil record. Taking into account the inter- and intraspecific variability displayed by selected Vulpes species (e.g., red fox, arctic fox, corsac fox), we performed morphological and morphometric comparisons between the fossil remains from different European localities. The results clearly suggest that the interspecific variability of V. alopecoides-V. praeglacialis-V. praecorsac is consistent and even lower than the observed intraspecific variability of the extant V. vulpes. All the analyzed European Late Pliocene-Early Pleistocene fox specimens can be reasonably accommodated into a single species, i.e., V. alopecoides with V. praeglacialis and V. praecorsac as junior subjective synonyms of the former.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106296
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2020


  • Canidae
  • Carnivora
  • Europe
  • Plio-Pleistocene
  • Taxonomy
  • Vulpes


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