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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.
As a result of escapes and deliberate introductions in the mid-20th century, raccoons are now also distributed across mainland Europe, Caucasia, and Japan.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.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.The kits are subsequently raised by their mother until dispersal in late fall.
Although captive raccoons have been known to live over 20 years, their life expectancy in the wild is only 1.8 to 3.1 years.Head to hindquarters, raccoons measure between 40 and 70 cm (16 and 28 in), not including the bushy tail which can measure between 20 and 40 cm (8 and 16 in), but is usually not much longer than 25 cm (10 in).The body weight of an adult raccoon varies considerably with habitat, making the raccoon one of the most variably sized mammals.Though previously thought to be solitary, there is now evidence that raccoons engage in gender-specific social behavior.Related females often share a common area, while unrelated males live together in groups of up to four animals to maintain their positions against foreign males during the mating season, and other potential invaders.In many areas, hunting and vehicular injury are the two most common causes of death.