City animals are changing their physical characteristics

Evolutionary biologist Rob Dunn, in his 2022 book A Natural History of the Future maintains that evolution can occur quicker than people think – mostly unnoticed, right under our noses. Evolution is happening when the physical characteristics of animals change over time, or new types of animals develop, or some animal species disappear.

Rob Dunn first explains how animal species can evolve and change. One way is through isolation – when animals are separated from other species, they can diverge and change some of their physical characteristics. Another way is through a change of diet, and another way is through geographical barriers.

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Turkmenian Fox

The Turkmenian Fox (Vulpes vulpes flavescens) is a vulpine mammal. It is a sub-species of the Red Fox.

The Turkmenian Fox has greyish fur with reddish-yellow tints. Its winter fur is dense, long, soft, and silky. It sides are lighter than its back and its chin, lower lips, throat and front of the chest are white. The tip of its fluffy tail is white. It has a long body, long narrow head, and short legs. Its front paws have five toes and its back paws have four toes. Each toe has a strong claw. It has orange-brown, oval-shaped pupils with excellent vision.

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New Caledonia Flying Fox

The New Caledonia Flying Fox (Pteropus vetulus) is a bat, and a mammal, in the Pteropodidae family. Ptero means winged. It is not a fox.

The New Caledonian Flying Fox has long, silky brownish-red fur. It does not have a tail. Its head looks like the head of a small fox. It has long pointed ears, large eyes, and a small grey nose. It has long, black, clawed fingers, and large black wings. 

Its wings are flexible and look like a human’s hand, except that the digits (fingers) are longer and bats have a thin membrane of skin, called the patagium, between the fingers. These features enable the bat to move in the air and to change direction quickly. 

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Red Fox

The Red Fox (Vulpes vulpes) is a common and widespread mammal.

The Red Fox has reddish fur with yellow tints. Its winter fur is dense, long, soft, and silky. It sides are lighter than its back and its chin, lower lips, throat and front of the chest are white. The tip of its fluffy tail is white. It has a long body, long narrow head, and short legs. Its front paws have five toes and its back paws have four toes. Each toe has a strong claw. It has oval-shaped pupils with excellent vision.

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Corsac Fox

The Corsac Fox (Vulpes corsac) is a medium-sized mammal. It is also known as the Steppe Fox or the Sand Fox.

The Corsac Fox has yellowish-brown fur with paler underparts. It has pale markings on its mouth, chin, and throat. It has pointed ears with excellent hearing. It also has orange-brown eyes with excellent vision. It has small teeth. Its feet have sharp claws.

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CREATURE FEATURE: East African Black-Backed Jackal

The East African Black-Backed Jackal (Canis mesomelas schmidti) is a canid in the Canidae family. It is related to the Bat-Eared Fox (Otocyon megalotis) and the Wild Dog (Lycaon pictus).

It looks like a fox or dog, but with large pointed ears, and a pointed snout (nose). Canis means dog, and mesomelas means middle black. It has reddish fur, a white chest, and a distinct black back from neck to bushy tail. The Black-Backed Jackal trots nimbly on its long legs. It rests in holes in the ground, rock crevices, or tall grass.

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