I'm in the process of writing a speculative evolution book which is based on the natural history of the nine tailed foxes that suppose form a structure for a novel series I'm also doing (rather as a real animal undiscovered by science, than a mythological creature so no supernatural stuff and magic please).

I'm nearly down with the basics of the fox (the reason behind the extra tails and the creation of fox-fire which is like a will o wisp) and what is left is how the fox can shape-shift in a rather more illusionary way (not literally illusionary and more like a natural hologram ) as an alternative to change and hide its true appearance, rather than literally changing its anatomy and physiology to mimic the desired animal, since the fox would probably have to shed its fur and regrow it which would be a waste for the extra tails as they actually dreads, rearrange its cellular structure to match the desired species, require a large amount of calories to build up body mass or need more calcium to strengthen its new bones (if changing into a larger animal) and might be easy for the disguise.

I kinda imagine shape-shifting could serve as a defence mechanism to scare predators away in a "different form" as a last resort if aposematic display fails and to blend in with pursuing wolves and other pack animals (and maybe humans if the foxes ever venture in urban areas) if there's a limit.

It could also be useful for the sick, the injured and the elderly to avoid detection of their prey, like a hare for example, as they mimic their victims themselves, it’s also been shown to be useful when chasing competitors away from their kills.

Like a parrot, the fox could mimic a variety of animals which could be useful while in disguise to make it more realistic and believable to predators and prey.

Question- The question is really is there a way the fox could inherit this ability as a learned behavior? Can it mimic other animals? And most importantly, what does the fox require for this structure to work?

It's fine if there's some difficulties during transforming, such as the ears or tails could pop out unexceptionally as the fox could have difficulty hiding them or needs to master the technique through age (this actually could explain the tales of the kitsune).

Maybe there could be a common mark possessed by all forms (including human form), for example, they could have the same colours as the fox possesses (let's say a white fox could shape-shifts into a beautiful girl with white hair.

As a extra, when disguising itself from predators or prey with a good sense of smell, the scent glands could give off a smell similar to theirs.

And last and also important, how can the fox hide its tails?

Don't mind if it's something to do with light, iridescent (the extras being dreads by the way) or something.

For those who saw the previous one, I'm in sort of a rush to finish this book.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question because it's a repost of this deleted, poorly received question (10k & moderators only link). $\endgroup$ – Mołot Jan 15 '17 at 3:51
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    $\begingroup$ Oh come one Molot, I spent months trying to edit this what more do you want? $\endgroup$ – Alexander R. Hunt Jan 15 '17 at 12:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Mołot Seems to me to be two different questions. The question you linked received a single downvote in two days before it was deleted by the OP alone, it didn't end up closed, and I see only a single comment on it that really counts as the question being "poorly received". Overall, hardly devastating. This question feels to me like one that can be answered with "you can do whatever you want, it's your story, just keep it consistent", and it's possible that this is primarily opinion-based, but please vote on this question on its own merits, not based on another previous question by the OP. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jan 15 '17 at 15:15
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    $\begingroup$ A white fox shape-shifting into a beautiful girl... science-based. A very large (female) fox weighs 12 kg: that's a two year old girl. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Jan 18 '17 at 2:15
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    $\begingroup$ People seem awfully trigger happy with closing questions that might engender interesting discussions. I really can't understand why. $\endgroup$ – Kronimiciad Jan 25 '17 at 23:03

Use the fur and hair to hide and accentuate features. So you have a humanoid female with long, sweeping hair. Her face is always a bit fox-shaped but within human norms. To look like a fox, she rearranges her hair to resemble fur and puffs it out in certain places to increase the resemblance to a fox. For example, fox ears might really be just folds of hair. Note that the hair may need to be alive for this to work. Perhaps more cilia than hair.

Perhaps there are air pockets under her skin that allow even the facial shape to change. Expand them as humanoid. Contract them for a fox. These could also store fur. Perhaps the skin retracts behind them, leaving the fur on top.

Give her extra joints in her limbs but allow her to be able to lock them into place. So she has a joint between wrist and elbow that doesn't bend in humanoid form. But as a fox, it forms the knee of her foreleg. Her upper arm would retract into her body, leaving her humanoid knee as the fox's shoulder.

You can't do much with size. Even if she looks like a small human, she will be a very large fox.

It's unlikely that she will look quite right in either form. Under careful examination, she won't quite look human or fox. But most don't catch more than a glimpse of her in fox form. And of course as a human, she can wear clothes. So most won't see more than her face and hands. Perhaps she uses her tails to give the impression of hips and breasts.


It is possible, but about as possible as Usain Bolt speed is to the rest of us
So you want the ultimate disguise without magic? How about taking a look at some of nature's best?

  • Octopus:
    They have an amazing capability to disguise themselves into almost any other sea animals. It is not so hard to imagine your "kitsune" to be some kind of land octopus (it already have extra tails to match!!!). The tails even help in faking human, too. Which is more possible, a naked person walking outdoor, or a slim girl wearing a fur dress (which is actually made by woven tails) wandering around the wood? (I only say "girl" because of the dress) Not only that, it can fix the problem of different body shape (just let the fur cover any differences, including a veil for the face)
    The problem is that you have to explain the tails into some kind of tentacles and somehow the fur color can change at will
  • Walk on two legs:
    This is just for faking human only, but if your kitsune want infiltrate deep enough among us to have "tales", this is a must. Throw in an opposable thumb while you're at it
  • As smart as a house dog and a parrot
    Again, just to fool us human. You will be surprised at how much social cue matters in determining personhood. Nobody would even think about kitsune when that lady in fur talk (even though it's complete gibberish) and understand basic social and emotional cues (as most house pet can). I would give a link on this too, if only I have 10 rep.
  • $\begingroup$ Good idea, but not really I had in mind $\endgroup$ – Alexander R. Hunt Jan 20 '17 at 21:31
  • $\begingroup$ I think I'll keep the kitsune as a species of fox $\endgroup$ – Alexander R. Hunt Jan 21 '17 at 16:15
  • $\begingroup$ i just said it has the same survival mechanism, not that it "is" a octopus $\endgroup$ – Nam Nguyen Hoang Jan 24 '17 at 4:58

Its fur could have evolved in a certain way to reflect light differently than other species. It all depends on the environment.

Does your species dwell on Earth, a hypothetical and fantastical planet, or another known planet? What habitat does it live in? Are humans still around? What other species are there in the environment? What time period is this? What does it eat? If it's prey, and it uses the "shapeshifting" ability to scare away predators, would it be like the Boggart in Harry Potter, which takes the form of whatever the closest being fears? If so, how would it distinguish between friends (who it does not need to shapeshift for) and foes/predators (who it needs to scare away, therefore shapeshift)?

You mention escaping human grasp, but if it's in close proximity to humans and it doesn't want to be seen or noticed (hence the shapeshifting ability), then why the nine tails? It seems to me that the nine tails would prove to be harmful, rather than helpful, and would not have evolved. Humans would notice the nine tails. It can't both have nine tails (which means it would be seen) and have a shapeshifting ability (which means it wouldn't be seen).

Unless you have a convincing explanation, these facts will contradict and eagle-eyed readers will be confused, like I am.


Natural Hallucinogens

The creature produces some sort of weak aerosol of hallucinogens that will affect anyone in close proximity. You could even say it gets the shape of a beautiful woman because the toxin affects the areas of the brain linked to reproduction and desire.


I do enjoy the octopus idea mentioned by another user. What if fur had some material that allowed the Ninetail Fox to change its color? The Fox then uses its many tails to wrap around itself in different ways. That allows the being to manipulate its size, shape, and appearance.

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    $\begingroup$ that was already included in the answerthat you refered to. $\endgroup$ – Mark Gardner Apr 10 '17 at 15:40

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