Bassingbourn black fox killed by car to be tested by scientists

16:37 30 March 2012

The black fox spotted in Bassingbourn. Photo by John Moore

The black fox spotted in Bassingbourn. Photo by John Moore

Archant

THE black fox of Bassingbourn which was killed by a car yesterday (Thursday) will be tested by scientists to see if the mystery behind its existence can be revealed.

The fox was spotted in the area last week, with the Crow featuring video footage and pictures of the animal.

But shortly afterwards, it was hit by a car between Royston and Bassingbourn. It has now been delivered to the Life Sciences Department at the Anglia Ruskin University, with plans to test it to discover the cause of the genetic mutation.

Helen McRobie, a lecturer in biomedical sciences at the university and world-leading expert on genetic mutations involving black squirrels, plans to test the animal shortly.

She told the Crow: “I’m going to do some DNA tests to see if I can find the mutation that’s causing this.

“There are two likely genes. It could be the same gene that causes melanism, which is found in black squirrels, or it could be a different one. If it’s not one of these two, it will be very difficult to know what it is.

“Testing can be quite quick if it’s the gene I think it is. If not, it could be almost impossible.”

Dr McRobie first heard about the fox after getting being notified by a colleague.

The animal is now being frozen until she is ready to begin her tests.

“I had an email which said it might interest me, and I said ‘yes, it would’,” she said.

“I got round to the fox as soon as I could. Someone had got there first, but the fox has come to us now. I’m going to get testing on it as soon as I can.”

Black foxes are uncommon, with sightings of the animals rare. Sightings of other mutated species have also been discovered, notably the black squirrel, which was first spotted in Letchworth GC.

“It’s popped up in all sorts of foxes and rabbits too. It’s relatively rare, but it happens,” she added.

Related articles

0 comments

More news stories

17:29
Fred Minall, 74, formerly of Wheathampstead, served on destroyers with the Royal Navy, and has been diagnosed with the incurable asbestos-related lung disease, mesothelioma.

Support has been growing for the campaign to give veterans fair compensation, in-line with civilian counterparts, when they develop fatal asbestos-related lung cancer.

15:00
Artist's impression of the incinerator at New Barnfield

Campaigners are again urging the county council to reject a proposed large incinerator, months after they successfully fought against one planned for Green Belt land near St Albans.

The Hatfield Road bridge entrance to Clarence Park

Funding has been agreed to replace the gateway into a St Albans park - despite a lobby to get it crowdfunded.

06:00
Watford General Hospital

After spending 15 hours in A&E at a local hospital following a road traffic accident, a St Albans filmmaker and photographer is wholeheartedly supporting junior doctors ahead of their strike next Wednesday.

Most read stories

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

Image
Read the The Herts Advertiser e-edition E-edition