The Carnivore family tree below was redrawn from information at Dr. David L. Atkins' web page* on the Order Carnivora. The tree was recently updated with information from an article by Arnason et al.: Biologically speaking, the Truth about Cats and Dogs seems to be that they represent the two major branches of the Carnivore family tree -- the dog/bear branch and the cat branch.
The hallmark of the Carnivores is their carnassial teeth. The premolars and molars have high, sharp compressed crowns that shear past each other like a paper cutter. If you have a cat or dog that can be trusted not to bite you, you can feel these teeth for yourself. Types of Carnivores that can be seen at the Fort Worth Zoo are indicated by arrows.
Each of the Carnivore families below has been identified by the common name of major species included in the family. However, since some of these families include less obvious family members, an expanded list is below:
- Cat family (Felidae): includes big cats of the Genus Panthera, smaller cats of the Genus Felis, and cheetahs.
- Hyena family (Hyenidae): includes both hyenas and aardwolves, a sort of termite-eating hyena.
- Mongoose family (Herpestidae): includes mongooses and meerkats.
- Civet family (Viverridae): includes civets, genets, fossas and binturongs.
- Canid family (Canidae): includes dogs, wolves, foxes, coyotes, dingos and jackals.
- Weasel family (Mustelidae): includes weasels, skunks, ferrets, minks, otters, martens, badgers and wolverines.
- Raccoon family (Procyonidae): includes raccoons, coatimundis and kinajous. Red pandas have been included in this group, but may be moved into their own family, or even included as a subfamily of the ...
- Bear family (Ursidae): all the bears, including black pandas. Position of the red panda is uncertain.
- Sea lion family (Otariidae): includes sea lions, eared seals, fur seals.
- Seal family (Phocidae): the "true" seals, AKA earless seals.
- Walrus family (Odobenidae): contains the walrus. This is a monospecific family.
*the link to Dr. David Atkins' page has become inactive, and I have been unable to relocate it.
Arnason, et al. Mammalian mitogenomic relationships and the root of the eutherian tree. PNAS 99 (June 11, 2002): 8151-8156.