THE urban fox’s snout is getting shorter, wider and more robust to help it scavenge through bins.
The animal is known for its cunning but its head and brain is becoming smaller as it adapts to life among humans, researchers say.
And the males have become metrosexual — shrinking to almost the same size as the vixens.
An international team compared 274 skulls of red foxes from London and the countryside.
Researcher Dr Kevin Parsons, of the University of Glasgow, said: “We saw urban foxes had a smaller brain size capacity but also a different snout shape that would help them forage within urban habitats.
“There was also less of a difference between males and females in urban foxes.”
He says the divergence of city dwellers from their country cousins also helps explain the evolution of dogs from wolves to our domesticated companions.
The number of red foxes in urban areas of England has soared from 33,000 to 150,000 in 25 years.
They are often brazen around humans, even approaching them for food.
Dr Parsons added: “Urban red foxes are becoming more similar to domesticated dogs as they adapt to their city environment.”
The similar size of the sexes brings them closer to many domesticated animals.
Researcher Dr Andrew Kitchener, from National Museums Scotland, said many of the changes would have been similar in the initial phases of domestication for our pets such as dogs and cats.
He added: “So, adapting to life around humans actually primes some animals for domestication.”
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