The Fox May Have Been Man's 'Real' First Best Friend

The fact that archaeologists uncovered an ancient burial site in northern Jordan recently wasn't big news. What was unusual was that a fox was buried alongside human remains.

"When we were first excavating the site, we thought it might have been a dog," Cambridge researcher Lisa Maher told NPR's Linda Wetheimer. "It wasn't until her team analyzed the animal's remains that it realized it was a fox."

It seems that humans may have been making an early attempt to keep foxes -- red foxes, to be exact -- as pets some 16,000 years ago, which is several millennia before animals were thought to have been domesticated.

There is also a possibility that the fox wasn't a pet at all. It may have had a totemic or spiritual significance to the culture.

Whatever the case may be, life certainly would be a bit more interesting if we had a bunch of red fox descendants in our homes and yards nowadays, don't you think?

Image: Mike Baird / via Flickr