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This is a submission for the Anatomically Correct Series

Residing in Japan, the Kitsune is commonly depicted as:

  • looking like a fox
  • having an unusually long lifespan for a fox
  • have up to nine tails
  • grow new tails as they get older with nine being the max (optional)
  • fur become lighter as they get older
  • love sweets (optional)

Given these characteristics, what species could the Kitsune have evolved from, and what evolutionary pressures would lead to such a creature?

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  • $\begingroup$ To my knowledge NO Mammals exist, or ever have, that possess more than one tail. If your creature is purely fictional, then your cause for the leap to Nine tails is also fictional. There is no known evolutionary advantage for this as a genetic trait. $\endgroup$ – Joe Feb 20 at 21:41
  • $\begingroup$ just like any other: They would evolve randomly and simply not die out fast enough for people to give them a name. This whole business of making sense of evolution, cosmic plans and everything happens for a reason, well, I don't know. I've seen a hippopotamus, I'm not convinced. I think those are great stories for a type of documentary/article people enjoy, but if we are talking about great stories, we end up with Star Trek. Things evolve and then they don't die. I guess it's human nature to make sense of it. As a world builder, you can make up your own reason, do whatever you like. Anything. $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Feb 20 at 21:54
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It's just a mutant fox

The description, more or less, is a fox, except it has multiple tails. A fox with multiple tails is possible through mutation. Multiple limbs is a condition known as 'polymelia', so this would be a fox with extreme polymelia. The extra tails wouldn't work well, and the fox would suffer as a result, but if you want a nine-tailed fox, you're looking at a fox with a mutation.

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