The mystical artifact called the Tantu Totem is a fox shaped talisman created by the African trickster god Anasi the spider. Originally created for the ancient African warrior Tantu who prayed to the trickster god asking for a totem to allow him mastery over the animal kingdom thereby protecting his people. The Tantu Totem did indeed allow Tantu to access the morphogenetic field and hence adapting his physical human limits to adapt numerous animal traits. Tantu than used the totem to become Africa's first hero and legend.
It has been shown in the pages of Animal Man that Anasi may have actually been a member of the alien race who gave Buddy Baker his ability to tap the morphogenetic field. Or it may be that the aliens may have actually been Anasi in disguise as shown in the Justice League. The totem was later passed down to Tantu's descendants until it reached the McCabes.
It was previously thought that the totem was the source of Vixen's powers but according to recent stories,it merely prevented Vixen's natural link to the morphogenetic field from overwhelming her mind. It was assumed that the totem also increased her range for mimicking the abilities of animals, as she has been known to mimic the abilities of animals on the other side of the world.