John T. Willis

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Darwin's Fox

The February 2010 issue of the National Geographic highlights the Darwin's Fox as a threatened species on earth, estimated by experts at fewer than 250 breeding adults. This animal lives only on San Pedro Island off the coast of Chile and in Chile in Nahuelbuta National Park. This little creature is 19-22 inches long with a tail ranging from 7 to 10 inches long, weighing 6 to 7 pounds.

The Darwin's Fox is a distant cousin of the South American grey fox, separated from its nearest relative 275,000 years ago. Usually this animal is solitary. It forms pairs during mating season, with both parents helping raise litters of 2 or 3 pups. Deforestation and domestic dogs are a danger of the Darwin's fox.

Darwin's Fox is also called Darwin's Zorro (Lycalopes fulvipes). Charles Darwin first discovered this animal in 1834. Pseudalopex is a South American genus of canine distantly related to wolves and thus is technically not a fox. It does not interbreed with the other Lycalopex species, only lives in forests, and is smaller and darker-colored than the other species. It is darker, has shorter legs, a broader, shorter skull, smaller auditory bullae, a more robust dentition, and a different jaw shape and stile of premolar occlusion than the Gray Fox. Darwin's Fox has a dark brown coat with red areas on its head and face. The coat of the Darwin's Fox is dark grey-violet with red areas on its ears, head, and limbs. Its dewlap and underbelly is mainly white, and thorax is sometimes locally cover of white coating.

The Darwin Fox hunts for mammals, reptiles, beetles, invertebrates, fruits, berries, birds, and amphibians. It is most active at twilight and before sunrise.

All of God's marvelous creatures are unique and useful and purposeful, even when human beings do not understand their need or appreciate their existence on earth. I hope YOU appreciate the Darwin's Fox. Share YOUR thoughts and experiences with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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