PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PAUL D STEWART / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Red Fox (vulpes vulpes) portrait detail from a woodcut with old colouring. Conrad Gesner "Icones Animalium" publ. Christof Froschover, Zurich, 1560. Gesner's artist catches the perceived intelligent and wily nature of the fox, even if the proportions are strange in this fascinating early woodcut that verges on caricature. In this account Gesner relates that "when the fox sees flocks of birds flying she lies prone on the ground and at the same time shuts her eyes, and placing her snout on the ground will hold her breath. The fox appears sleeping or rather dead. Thinking this the birds fly down to sit on her and to mock. But the fox then devours them with her gaping mouth".
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