Carnivora/kɑːrˈnɪvərə/ is a monophyletic order of placental mammals consisting of the most recent common ancestor of all cat-like and dog-like animals, and all descendants of that ancestor. Members of this group are formally referred to as carnivorans, and have evolved to specialize in eating flesh. The order is the fifth largest order of mammals, comprising at least 279 species.
Carnivorans live on every major landmass and in a variety of habitats, ranging from the cold polar regions to the hyper-arid region of the Sahara Desert to the open seas. They come in a very large array of different body plans in contrasting shapes and sizes.
Carnivora can be divided into two subclades: the cat-like Feliformia and the dog-like Caniformia, which are differentiated based on the structure of their ear bones and cranial features. The feliforms include families such as the cats, the hyenas, the mongooses and the civets. The majority of feliform species are found in the Old World, though the cats and one extinct genus of hyena have successfully diversified into the Americas. The caniforms include the dogs, bears, raccoons, weasels, and seals. Members of this group are found worldwide and with immense diversity in their diet, behavior, and morphology.
^Cite error: The named reference Heinrich2008 was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
^O. S. Vyalov (1966.) "Sledy Zhiznedeyatel'nosti Organizmov i ikh Paleontologicheskoye Znacheniye [Traces of Vital Activity of Organisms and their Paleontological Significance]" Naukova Dumka, Kyiv, 1-219