After an animal was hit by a car in Brazil, vets took him in for treatment… and ended up making a groundbreaking discovery.
According to The Telegraph, the animal was struck by a car in Vacaria, Brazil in 2021. He was rushed to Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul for treatment — but vets were perplexed: they couldn’t tell if the injured creature was a dog or a fox.
The animal had an unusual mix of dog and fox characteristics: he was about the size of a medium-sized dog, but the long pointy ears and snout of a fox. The mix of traits extended to her personality.
“It was not as docile as a dog, but it also lacked the aggressiveness expected of a wild canid when handled,” Flávia Ferrari, a conservationist who treated the animal, told the Telegraph. “She had a shy and cautious personality, generally preferring to stay away from people. Over the time she was hospitalised for treatment, I believe she started to feel safer.”
Researchers took an interest in the unusual creature, and studied her DNA to find out just what kind of animal she was. Recently, they revealed their findings: the animal was a cross between a pampas fox and a dog — the first known instance of a dog-fox hybrid.
“Our findings suggest that this individual represents a first-generation hybrid between a dog and a pampas fox,” the scientists’ research paper reads. “This discovery implies that, although these species diverged about 6.7 million years ago and belong to different genera, they might still produce viable hybrids. Further investigations are required to determine the fertility of these hybrids.”
The pampas fox is more closely related to the dog than to European foxes, but still, this is a milestone. While dogs have bred with other canid species like coyotes and wolves, this first known time a dog has bred outside the canis group.
The unique hybrid has been dubbed a “dogxim,” a cross between “dog” and “graxaim-do-campo,” the Portuguese name for the pampas fox.
Sadly, this first known dogxim died of unknown causes earlier this year. But after this discovery, scientists believe there could be more dogxims in the wild.
What a discovery — who knew there could be fox-dog hybrids? It’s sad that this first ever dogxim has passed away, but her discovery opens a door for research about this unique hybrid species.
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