Need ideas for the evolution of the kumiho, the Korean nine tailed fox that is native in the Korean peninsula.

First of all, this species is sexual dimorphic so both sexes would look different from each other both in appearance and maybe their mode of early life before forming a pack.

While the vixen resembles a red fox, the dog fox resembles the north American coyote in shape and size (except retaining having some cat-like features like other foxes) with stronger jaws to grip on struggling prey.
Here it fills the same ecological niche as the coyote.

Like the gray wolf, this species form packs to bring down larger prey such as deer and wild boars.

As lionesses do the hunting for the pride, the male kumihos (not the vixens) do most of the deer hunting (due to their size and shape not to mention being stronger than the vixens) as well as patrolling their territories and keep rival packs and predators at bay .

I haven't thought up of some roles for the vixens yet. And finally, the alpha pair have longer tails (the extras being massive dreads of matted fur that function like a bird's tail feathers) than other individuals in the pack which is used as a form of hierarchy in the group.

While the relatives of the kumiho use their tails use their tails which are marked with iridescent markings to both attract mates and to intimidate predators. Since the kumiho is a pack hunter therefore mate for life instead and display would be a one time thing so might need ideas on the concept of the tails of this certain species.

By the way, don't worry about the tails as I've already thought of ideas for the growth and development of the tails as well the use and how they function.

Anyways, need ideas for the possible reasons on why it evolve this way and why this species became isolated in the peninsula from their relatives.

  • $\begingroup$ So is that what a Vulpix and Ninetales were modeled after? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 19:53
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    $\begingroup$ Well they're based off the kitsune which is a Japanese fox spirit $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ While the kumiho is Korean $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 12:23
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    $\begingroup$ As a note on the "Alpha" pair, the alpha male/female theory in wolf packs was dropped as a theory very quickly as it turned out that they were just the parents of a family group. The man who originally came up with the theory spent the rest of his life trying to tell people that it wasn't correct, but it unfortunately caught on regardless. $\endgroup$
    – Separatrix
    Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 17:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Separatrix ...I miss a citation for that $\endgroup$
    – xDaizu
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 17:20

3 Answers 3


One correction to your question and that is that among lions the females, not the males do most of the hunting. The males tend to patrol the pride lands and keep other threats at bay. (Probably just a typo from reading your post)

To answer you questions though.

There are two primary reasons why you would have a fox with nine tails.

  1. Sexual selection. It could be that mates are chosen based on the size and luster of said tails.

  2. Defense mechanism. Many animals use hair and patterns to appear larger than they really are, this can make a predator see them as more of a threat than they really are.


  1. Among birds in particular plumage is a primary sources of mate selection. Peacocks, Flamingos, and many others.

For a good look at the mating dances check this out.

If this is the reasoning you choose a couple things to keep in mind. Many of these birds also develop intricate dances for courting and some collect and create a nest...or stage so to speak. Including these facets could make for a really interesting creature.

How would it evolve: Well...that's tougher. A single tail has obvious advantages for mobility and balance...more would be less useful and overly biologically complicated. Random mutation and selection is the only plausible if not overly realistic scenario.

  1. Both modern felines and canines have hair on their necks and backs that stand up to make them appear larger. Not to mention porcupines with their specialized hairs. Some skunks also stand up on their front paws to appear larger (and aim their stink...). I should also mention the blowfish...The same could be done with tails.

How would it evolve: Well similarly its probably going to have to be random mutation. If you combine these two ideas it is plausibly enough to make the random mutation (or more likely a series of random mutations) stick and be selected for.

As an added unrequested idea you could make the tails have a pattern and move in such a ways as to sort of pacify both predators and prey.

Oh and one additional note. It is not crazy that the male and female look different. That actually happens in a bunch of different species (though no mammals that I can think of off the top of my head).

  • $\begingroup$ If we're talking about nine actual tails in a realistic scenario, you'll have a hard time with the skeleton. Avian tails are mostly made out of feathers. Feline tails have vertebrae all the way through. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 17:27
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    $\begingroup$ 'though no mammals that I can think of off the top of my head': Hint: You belong to a sexually dimorphic species. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 18:50
  • $\begingroup$ If the creatures are trying to breed with ones that mutate new tails, then there would be more foxes prone to mutate tails, possibly. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 23, 2016 at 19:57
  • $\begingroup$ The extras are actually dreads of matted fur extending from the hindquarter $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 24, 2016 at 18:10
  • $\begingroup$ James, just out of curiosity what kind of dance would the fox perform during display? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 20:53

Birds provide many examples of sexual display and your description reminds me of peacocks, displaying their tails to win the hearts of girls (peahens?). One difference is that birds do not form hunting packs, but are alone, or form pair bonds. So I'd suggest that your pack be made up of pair bonded couples where each couple has courted with displays of big tails. Consider too, why is a nine tail display evolutionarily superior? Does it give nine times the magic power? Do you have to be stronger to display nine tails? Is the favorite prey easier to kill while staring at nine tails? Is the worst predator of these animals fooled by nine tails? Or does a big tail provide protection for cubs from terrible winter conditions? Severe winters may provide a compelling reason for isolation from regular foxes.

  • $\begingroup$ Well the ninetails in my book is actually suppose to be a real animal so there's no magic $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 25, 2016 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ Any ideas on the evolutionary history behind this behavior, I mean what had triggered this? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 14:11
  • $\begingroup$ Could it be to gain more calories or to compete with larger predators like tigers and bears? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 26, 2016 at 16:09

Sexual dimorphism, especially where males are larger than females, is associated with non-monogamous mating patterns, in which males compete for female sexual partners. Size gives an advantage in this competition, so is passed down to the next generation by the successful males.

Also associated with female sexual choice is displays, such as the peacock's tail. When mating pairs form long-term monogamous bonds, the males and females tend to be similarly sized, and the non-productive types of mating display tend to be smaller and simpler.

  • $\begingroup$ What about Mack's idea about the pack being made up of pair bonded couples where each couple has courted with displays of big tails? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 20:35
  • $\begingroup$ The current position of evolutionary science is that pair-bonded couple don't need to waste resources on flashy mating displays that reduce the chance of the individual surviving. Those are only worthwhile when there is competition for mates, and one gender chooses. the "choosing" gender is plain (like peahens), while the competing gender is flashy. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ Also, if pairs mate for life, then even if they used flashy tails to land the mate, evolution would favour those who ditched the tails after bonding. Flashy tails would be a temporary adolescent phase. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 23:42
  • $\begingroup$ Well the tails have iridescent markings, could they fade after bonding? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 8:31
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that nine tails would be bulky, slow you down when running or fighting, and require extra calories to maintain. If they were not longer required for attracting a mate, evolution would favour those whose tails withered away - or maybe even fell off completely, like a lizard's tail. The alternative, to remain consistent with known science, is to ditch the pair-bonding and let them compete for mates their whole life. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 29, 2016 at 10:23

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