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.
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.
The two most widespread subspecies are the eastern raccoon (Procyon lotor lotor) and the Upper Mississippi Valley raccoon (Procyon lotor hirtus). states and Canadian provinces to the north of South Carolina and Tennessee.
Both share a comparatively dark coat with long hairs, but the Upper Mississippi Valley raccoon is larger than the eastern raccoon. The adjacent range of the Upper Mississippi Valley raccoon covers all U. states and Canadian provinces to the north of Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.
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.
It can range from 5 to 26 kilograms (10 to 60 lb), but is usually between 5 and 12 kilograms (10 and 30 lb).