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The earliest fossil remains of the modern species date back to the mid-Pleistocene in association with the refuse of early human settlements. The southern (or montane) refugium occurs in the subalpine parklands and alpine meadows of the Rocky Mountains, the Cascade Range, and Sierra Nevada. The forefoot print measures 60 mm (2.4 in) in length and 45 mm (1.8 in) in width, while the hind foot print measures 55 mm (2.2 in) long and 38 mm (1.5 in) wide.
The upper parts of the limbs are rusty reddish, while the paws are black.
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 red fox (Vulpes vulpes) is the largest of the true foxes and one of the most widely distributed members of the order Carnivora, being present across the entire Northern Hemisphere from the Arctic Circle to North Africa, North America and Eurasia. Its range has increased alongside human expansion, having been introduced to Australia, where it is considered harmful to native mammals and bird populations.
Due to its presence in Australia, it is included among the list of the "world's 100 worst invasive species".