Who Would Have Thought Having Big Ears Would Be Such an Evolutionary Feat?

With unique teeth structure to hunting patterns, foxes roam all over the world.

One of the most interesting fox species is the bat-eared fox. The bat-eared fox gets its name from its enormous ears, which are crucial to its survival. This species used to be common all across Africa. Now it lives from Ethiopia to southern Sudan, and from Angola to South Africa.

Most adult bat-eared foxes weigh 6 to 11 pounds and can be up to 39 inches long from head to tail. Their typical diet contains a variety of insects, mammals, plants, and birds. Bat-eared foxes have a unique jaw structure that enables them to chew before swallowing their food. Their jaws contain four to eight more molar teeth than other fox species.

The huge ears of a bat-eared fox help it to hear tiny insects from way underground. Blood vessels in its ears also enable the fox to cool down under the hot African sun.

Along with large ears, the tail is also a very important part of the bat-eared fox. While running from danger, the fox uses its tail to maintain its speed. The tail also plays an important role in communicating to other bat-eared foxes.

The bat-eared fox is part of the Canidae dog family, which contains 36 species including wolves, coyotes, and dholes. The Canidae dog family is divided into 3 subfamilies: Simocyoninae, Caninae, and Otofyoninae. Members of Canidea are usually split up into these subfamilies based on their teeth structure. Out of the 36 species, the bat-eared fox is the one in the Otofyoninae subfamily. What is interesting about this dog family of foxes is how different all these animals are. For example, the dhole, a relative of the bat-eared fox, is found from southern Siberia to India. It can be as long as 65 inches which is double the length of the bat-eared fox. While the bat-eared fox hunts insects and small mammals, the dhole preys on larger animals.

It is because of the bat-eared foxes ability to hunt, their body structure, and way to communicate that these foxes can survive in the wild.

[Source: Simpson Street Free Press Archives ]