South American fox

Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Family: Canidae
Subfamily: Caninae
Genus: Lycalopex
Burmeister, 1854

Lycalopex culpaeus
Lycalopex fulvipes
Lycalopex griseus
Lycalopex gymnocercus
Lycalopex sechurae
Lycalopex vetulus


Pseudalopex Burmeister, 1856

The South American foxes (Lycalopex), commonly called "raposas", in Portuguese, or "zorros", in Spanish, are a genus of the Canidae family from South America. Despite their name, they are not true foxes but are a unique canid genus, which some somewhat resemble foxes and are named after them. The South American gray fox Lycalopex griseus, is the most common species, and is known for its large ears and a highly marketable, russet-fringed pelt.

The oldest known fossils belonging to the genus were discovered in Chile, and date from 2.0 to 2.5 million years ago, in the mid to late Pliocene.[2]


The common English words "zorro" and "raposa" are loan words from Spanish and Portuguese, respectively, with both words originally meaning "fox". Current usage lists Pseudalopex (literally: "false fox") as synonymous with Lycalopex ("wolf fox"), with the latter taking precedence.[1] The IUCN, for instance, retains the use of Pseudalopex while also acknowledging Lycalopex as a legitimate alternative.[3]


Species currently included in this genus include:[1]

In 1914, Oldfield Thomas established the genus Dusicyon, in which he included these zorros. They were later reclassified to Lycalopex (via Pseudalopex) by Langguth in 1975.[1]

Relationship with humans

The raposas are hunted in Argentina for their durable, soft pelt. They are also often labelled 'lamb-killers'.


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  1. 1 2 3 4 Wozencraft, W.C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D.E.; Reeder, D.M. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. Lucherini, M. & Luengos Vidal, E. M. (2008). "Lycalopex gymnocercus (Carnivora: Canidae)". Mammalian Species: Number 820, pp. 1–9. doi:10.1644/820.1.
  3. Jiménez, J. E. (2008). "Pseudalopex culpaeus". IUCN. Retrieved May 8, 2012.

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