Viverridae (civets, genets, mongooses; suborder Fissipedia (or Feliformia), superfamily Feloidea)
A family of primitive, short-legged, long-bodied, mainly nocturnal carnivores that occupy in the Old World tropics the ecological position occupied in temperate regions by the Mustelidae
. The Viverridae resemble closely the Miacidae
of the Oligocene
, from which they are descended. Their fossil record is sparse, but extends back to the Eocene
. Some modern forms are strongly reminiscent of felids, especially Cryptoprocta
, which perhaps is better classified as a felid. The claws are partly retractile, and the gait is semi- plantigrade
. The canine
teeth are smaller than those of most carnivores, and the carnassials
are not well developed. The skull and face are long, and the brain small. Most feed on small vertebrates and invertebrates, but some eat plant material. Viverrids are distributed widely throughout the Old World tropics and subtropics and are the only carnivores to have become established in Madagascar. There are 36 genera, with about 75 species, but about half of these are nowadays more usually split off into a separate family, Herpestidae.
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