Skip to main content
Select Source:

Carnivora

Carnivora (cohort Ferungulata, super-order Ferae) An order that comprises the modern carnivorous placental mammals and their immediate ancestors. It used to be divided into two suborders, the Fissipedia (mainly land-dwelling) and Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions, walrus), but a more modern classification is into Caniformia (dog-like) and Feliformia (cat-like), with the ‘pinnipeds’ belonging to the former. The carnivores are descended from a single stock of the probably insectivorous, placental mammals of the early Cretaceous, the change being reflected in their dentition. Strong incisors for biting, and canines for piercing, were retained from the insectivorous forms, but in general carnivores acquired modified cheek teeth (carnassials) specialized for shearing. These subsequently became reduced in those carnivores which adopted a herbivorous diet. Hoofs have rarely developed, as claws are used for seizing prey, and digits are never greatly elongated (and, apart from the pollex and hallux, they are not reduced). The first true carnivores were the weasel-like Miacidae of the Palaeocene, which had diverged by the end of the Eocene to give the Canidae (dogs) and Mustelidae (weasels and their allies) as one branch and the Viverridae (Old World civets) and Felidae (cats) as another. According to some authors, the Mustelidae later branched again to give the Phocidae (seals); and the Canidae diversified widely to produce such forms as the Amphicyonidae (‘dog-bears’), Otariidae (sea lions), Procyonidae (raccoons and pandas), and, ultimately, Ursidae (bears); but molecular studies seem to indicate that the Phocidae and Otariidae are descended from a single ancestor which was related to the mustelid-ursid-procyonid stem. Finally, the Hyaenidae (hyenas) emerged in the late Miocene from viverrid stock; this is the youngest of the carnivore families.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Carnivora." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Carnivora." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivora

"Carnivora." A Dictionary of Earth Sciences. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivora

Carnivora

Carnivora (cohort Ferungulata, superorder Ferae) An order that comprises the modern carnivorous placental mammals and their immediate ancestors. It used to be divided into two suborders, the Fissipedia (mainly land-dwelling) and Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions, walrus), but a more modern classification is into Caniformia (dog-like) and Feliformia (cat-like), with the ‘pinnipeds’ belonging to the former. The carnivores are descended from a single stock of the probably insectivorous, placental mammals of the early Cretaceous, the change being reflected in their dentition. Strong incisors for biting, and canines for piercing, were retained from the insectivorous forms, but in general carnivores acquired modified cheek teeth (carnassials) specialized for shearing. These subsequently became reduced in those carnivores which adopted a herbivorous diet. Hoofs have rarely developed, as claws are used for seizing prey, and digits are never greatly elongated (and, apart from the pollex and hallux, they are not reduced). The first true carnivores were the weasel-like Miacidae of the Palaeocene, which had diverged by the end of the Eocene to give the Canidae (dogs) and Mustelidae (weasels and their allies) as one branch and the Viverridae (Old World civets) and Felidae (cats) as another. According to some authors, the Mustelidae later branched again to give the Phocidae (seals); and the Canidae diversified widely to produce such forms as the Amphicyonidae (‘dog-bears’), Otariidae (sea lions), Procyonidae (raccoons and pandas), and, ultimately, Ursidae (bears); but molecular studies seem to indicate that the Phocidae and Otariidae are descended from a single ancestor which was related to the mustelid-ursid-procyonid stem. Finally, the Hyaenidae (hyenas) emerged in the late Miocene from viverrid stock; this is the youngest of the carnivore families.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Carnivora." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Carnivora." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivora-0

"Carnivora." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivora-0

carnivore

carnivore (kär´nəvôr´), term commonly applied to any animal whose diet consists wholly or largely of animal matter. In animal systematics it refers to members of the mammalian order Carnivora (see Chordata). This large order is divided into two suborders, the Fissipedia, or land carnivores, and the Pinnipedia, or fin-footed carnivores. The Fissipedia encompasses two superfamilies: one (Canoidea) includes the dog, bear, raccoon, and weasel families and the other (Feloidea) includes the cat, civet, and hyena families. The Pinnipedia, often classified as a separate order, includes the seal, sea lion, and walrus families. The term herbivore refers to animals whose diets consist wholly or largely of plant matter; omnivore refers to animals that eat both animal and plant matter. Unlike the term carnivore, these terms do not refer to any one group in animal systematics.

See R. F. Ewer, The Carnivores (1986); J. L. Gittleman, Carnivore Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution (1989).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"carnivore." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"carnivore." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/carnivore

"carnivore." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/carnivore

carnivore

carnivore Any member of the order of flesh-eating mammals. Mustelids – weasels, martens, minks and the wolverine – make up the largest family. Cats are the most specialized killers among the carnivores; dogs, bears and raccoons are much less exclusively meat eaters; and civets, mongooses and their relatives also have a mixed diet. Related to the civets, but in a separate family, are the hyenas, large dog-like scavengers. More distantly related to living land carnivores are the seals, sea lions and walruses; they evolved from ancient land carnivores who gave rise to early weasel- or civet-like forms. Other extinct carnivores include the sabretooth cats, which died out during the Pliocene epoch, 2 million years ago.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"carnivore." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"carnivore." World Encyclopedia. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/carnivore

"carnivore." World Encyclopedia. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/environment/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/carnivore

Carnivora

Carnivora An order of mainly flesh-eating mammals that includes the dogs, wolves, bears, badgers, weasels, and cats. Carnivores typically have very keen sight, smell, and hearing. The hinge joint between the lower jaw and skull is very tight, allowing no lateral movement of the lower jaw. This – together with the arrangement of jaw muscles – enables a very powerful bite. The teeth are specialized for stabbing and tearing flesh: canines are large and pointed and some of the cheek teeth are modified for shearing (see carnassial teeth).

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Carnivora." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Carnivora." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivora-1

"Carnivora." A Dictionary of Biology. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivora-1

carnivore

carnivore An animal that eats meat, especially a member of the order Carnivora (e.g. tigers, wolves). Carnivores are specialized by having strong powerful jaws and well-developed canine teeth. They may be predators or carrion eaters. See also consumer. Compare herbivore; omnivore.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"carnivore." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"carnivore." A Dictionary of Biology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivore-1

"carnivore." A Dictionary of Biology. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivore-1

carnivore

car·ni·vore / ˈkärnəˌvôr/ • n. an animal that feeds on flesh. ∎  Zool. a mammal of the order Carnivora.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"carnivore." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"carnivore." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivore-0

"carnivore." The Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivore-0

carnivore

carnivore One who eats meat; as opposed to a herbivore, who eats plants, or an omnivore who eats anything

Stuart Judge


See diets; food.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"carnivore." The Oxford Companion to the Body. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"carnivore." The Oxford Companion to the Body. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/carnivore

"carnivore." The Oxford Companion to the Body. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/medicine/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/carnivore

carnivore

carnivore
1. Any heterotrophic, flesh-eating animal. See also food-chain.

2. A member of the mammalian order Carnivora.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"carnivore." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"carnivore." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivore

"carnivore." A Dictionary of Ecology. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivore

carnivore

carnivore
1. Any heterotrophic, flesh-eating animal. See also FOOD CHAIN.

2. A member of the Carnivora.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"carnivore." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"carnivore." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivore-0

"carnivore." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivore-0

carnivore

carnivore •Ifor • Gwynfor • herbivore • carnivore •omnivore • insectivore

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"carnivore." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"carnivore." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 16, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivore

"carnivore." Oxford Dictionary of Rhymes. . Retrieved August 16, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/carnivore