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Soon after that it became an ethnic slur, In the first decades after its discovery by the members of the expedition of Christopher Columbus, who was the first person to leave a written record about the species, taxonomists thought the raccoon was related to many different species, including dogs, cats, badgers and particularly bears.
Carl Linnaeus, the father of modern taxonomy, placed the raccoon in the genus Ursus, first as Ursus cauda elongata ("long-tailed bear") in the second edition of his Systema Naturae (1740), then as Ursus Lotor ("washer bear") in the tenth edition (1758–59).
Unlike other procyonids, such as the crab-eating raccoon (Procyon cancrivorus), the ancestors of the common raccoon left tropical and subtropical areas and migrated farther north about 2.5 million years ago, in a migration that has been confirmed by the discovery of fossils in the Great Plains dating back to the middle of the Pliocene.
Four of these subspecies living only on small Central American and Caribbean islands were often regarded as distinct species after their discovery.
Raccoons are noted for their intelligence, with studies showing that they are able to remember the solution to tasks for up to three years.
The diet of the omnivorous raccoon, which is usually nocturnal, consists of about 40% invertebrates, 33% plant foods, and 27% vertebrates.
These are the Bahamian raccoon and Guadeloupe raccoon, which are very similar to each other; the Tres Marias raccoon, which is larger than average and has an angular skull; and the extinct Barbados raccoon.
Studies of their morphological and genetic traits in 1999, 20 led all these island raccoons to be listed as subspecies of the common raccoon in Mammal Species of the World's third edition.
As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, raccoons are now also distributed across mainland Europe, Caucasia, and Japan. Its grayish coat mostly consists of dense underfur which insulates it against cold weather.Two of the raccoon's most distinctive features are its extremely dexterous front paws and its facial mask, which are themes in the mythologies of the indigenous peoples of the Americas.Nova Scotia, southern New Brunswick, southern Quebec, and southern Ontario south through the eastern United States to North Carolina, and from the Atlantic coast west to Lake Michigan, Indiana, southern Illinois, western Kentucky, and probably eastern Tennessee.Texas, except extreme northern and western parts, southern Arkansas, Louisiana, except delta region of Mississippi, and south into northeastern Mexico, including Coahuila and Nuevo León, to southern Tamaulipas.
The slightly rounded ears are also bordered by white fur.