Order Carnivora  ≥11 families, >287 species
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Order Carnivora ≥11 families, >287 species •Naturally distributed on all continents (except possibly Australia) •Morphologically & behaviorally diverse •Economically important in most countries •Ecologically important. Order Carnivora Recognition characters (most/all related to carnivory):

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Order Carnivora ≥11 families, >287 species

•Naturally distributed on all continents (except possibly Australia)

•Morphologically & behaviorally diverse

•Economically important in most countries

•Ecologically important


Order Carnivora

Recognition characters (most/all related to carnivory):

Dental features (present in MOST species):

•Carnassial shear: P4/M1 (secondarily lost in some taxa)

•Canines large, conical

•Most have primitive # incisors (3/3)

Cranial features:

•Transverse glenoid fossa

•Sagittal crest often prominent, well developed

•Large brains, well developed zygomatic arch

Other features:

•Most are medium-sized

•Acute senses (hearing, sight, especially smell)

•Most are adept cursors---sprinting

•Simple stomach (cecum reduced or absent in most sp.)


Glenoid/ mandibular fossa

C-shaped: strong hinge,

minimizes lateral movement

and facilitates up & down

movement

(e.g., mustelids)

Omnivores (e.g., bears,

procyonids) have more “open”

glenoid fossa, permitting

lateral movement


Postcranial modifications:

•loss or reduction of clavicles

(increases stride length)

•fusion of carpal bones

(may add support for cursorial locomotion)


Fusion of centrale, scaphoid, & lunar bones

of wrist

Carnivora

Most non-carnivorans


Non-cursorial taxa

(e.g., ursids, procyonids)

Cursorial taxa

(e.g., canids, felids)

Increases stride length


Order Carnivora ≥11 families, >287 species

Suborder Feliformia (“cat like”)

Felidae (cats & their relatives)

Hyaenidae (hyenas, aardwolves)

Herpestidae (mongooses)

Viverridae (civets, genets)

Suborder Caniformia (“dog like”)

Canidae (dogs & their relatives)

Ursidae (bears)

Mustelidae (weasels, otters, etc., skunks?)

Procyonidae (raccoon, coati, kinkajou)

Odobenidae (walrus)

Otariidae (sea lions)

Phocidae (seals)

Pinnipeds


Creodonts

Feliformia

(‘cat-like’)

Caniformia

(‘dog-like’)


Creodonts---Fossil carnivorans, late Cretaceous-Miocene

Outcompeted by more “modern” carnivorans?


18 genera, 40 sp.

All continents ‘cept Austr.,

Antarctica


Felids: “The ultimate killing machines”

Most specialized hunters of the carnivorans,

relying almost exclusively on prey that they

have killed themselves.

short rostrum=increased

bite force at canines


“Big” vs “small” cats

Felis

& others

Panthera


Retractile (=retractable) claws? PROTRACTILE!

terminal phalanx, supporting claw

edge of fleshy sheath

around claw

horny claw

elastic ligament holds

claw in (retracted)

pads

tendon of extensor muscle

middle phalanx

tendon of flexor muscle


tendon at wrist

holding ligaments in place

ligaments of extensor muscle

terminal phalanx

claw


4 genera, 4 sp.

Africa, SW Asia


18 genera, 37 sp.

Africa, S. & SE Asia


20 genera, 34 sp.

Africa, S. & SE Asia


(Herpestidae)

(Herpestidae)

(Viverridae)

(Viverridae)

(Viverridae)


14 genera, 34 sp.

All continents ‘cept Antarctica


6 genera, 9 sp.

N. & S. America, Eurasia


25 genera, 65 sp.

Worldwide ‘cept

Australia, Madagascar


6 genera, 18 sp.

N. & S. America


“Hypercarnivory”---too much of a

good thing?

Stenotopic: restricted range of habitats

or ecological conditions

Eurytopic: wide range of habitats

or ecological conditions


•reduced molars &

non-carnassial P’s

(=reduced grinding)

•enlarged carnassials

& canines

•short rostrum

•meat-only diet

Hypercarnivory

Mesocarnivory

•unreduced or

enlarged molars

•reduced carnassials

•long rostrum

•omnivorous diet

Hypocarnivory


Smilodon (extinct

sabre-tooth cat)

Modern felid

masseter muscle relaxes more, allowing

wide open gape


Smilodon

Thylacosmilus

(extinct S. American

hypercarnivorous marsupial)

•Hypercarnivory has evolved several times (and in several

orders)

•Usually correlated with LARGE BODY SIZE...


Cope’s Rule: Evolutionary trend towards

larger body size.

Common among mammals.

Advantages: -Avoid predators

-Enhance reproductive success

-Improve thermal effiency

-Interspecific competition for food

-Capture larger prey (prey size

often increases over time)


Prey size (cont.)

Tradeoff between foraging effort & food acquired imposes energetic constraint.

Smaller carnivores can subist on small prey (e.g., insects, rodents).

Larger carnivores (> ca. 21 g)--small prey not worth the energy expended.

Larger body size leads to HYPERCARNIVORY and overspecialization?


Hypercarnivory in N. American canids

Canidae---3 subfamilies

Caninae

Hesperocyoninae† (>28 sp.)

Borophaginae† (>68 sp.)

Diverse in Miocene; peak of 25 contemporaneous

species. (compare with 7 extant canids in N.S.

today)

N. America endemics


Cope’s Rule

Hesperocyoninae†

Borophaginae†


1st appearance of

hypercarnivorous

borophagines

1st appearance of

hypercarnivorous

hesperocyonines

Millions of years ago


Constraint” Any factor that tends to slow the rate of

adaptive evolution.

Reversal to more generalized morphology rare in

highly specialized taxa.

Hypercarnivory may lead to “adaptive peak” that can’t

be descended...


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