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This, in turn, derives from Proto-Indo-European *puḱ- 'thick-haired; tail'. The latter clade has been separated from all other red fox populations since the last glacial maximum, and may possess unique ecological or physiological adaptations. In addition, no evidence is seen of interbreeding of eastern red foxes in California with the montane Sierra Nevada red fox V. necator or other populations in the Intermountain West (between the Rocky Mountains to the east and the Cascade and Sierra Nevada ranges to the west. A large subspecies, the colour along its spine is light, dull yellowish-reddish with a strongly developed white ripple and greyish longitudinal stripes on the anterior side of the limbs. However, relative to dimensions, red foxes are much lighter than similarly sized dogs of the genus Canis.Compare to the Hindi pū̃ch 'tail', Tocharian B päkā 'tail; chowrie', and Lithuanian paustìs 'fur'. Also, introduced eastern red foxes have colonized southern California, the San Joaquin Valley, and San Francisco Bay Area, but appear to have mixed with the Sacramento Valley red fox V. Substantial gene pool mixing between different subspecies is known; British red foxes have crossbred extensively with foxes imported from Germany, France, Belgium, Sardinia, and possibly Siberia and Scandinavia. Their limb bones, for example, weigh 30 percent less per unit area of bone than expected for similarly sized dogs.The bushy tail also forms the basis for the fox's Welsh name, llwynog, literally 'bushy', from llwyn 'bush'. A large subspecies measuring 70–90 cm in length and weighing 5–10 kg, the maximum length of the skull for males is 163.2 mm. They display significant individual, sexual, age and geographical variation in size.
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Because of its widespread distribution and large population, the red fox is one of the most important furbearing animals harvested for the fur trade.
Too small to pose a threat to humans, it has extensively benefited from the presence of human habitation, and has successfully colonised many suburban and urban areas. vulpes by its smaller size, proportionately smaller skull and teeth, and coarser fur.
Gene mapping demonstrates that red foxes in North America have been isolated from their Old World counterparts for over 400,000 years, thus raising the possibility that speciation has occurred, and that the previous binomial name of Vulpes fulva may be valid. They have a stride of 25–35 cm (9.8–13.8 in) when walking at a normal pace.
In the far north, red fox fossils have been found in Sangamonian deposits in the Fairbanks District and Medicine Hat. North American red foxes are generally lightly built, with comparatively long bodies for their mass and have a high degree of sexual dimorphism.