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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 ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
..... Click the link for more information. ). 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 dogdog,
carnivorous, domesticated wolf (Canis lupus familiaris) of the family Canidae, to which the jackal and fox also belong. The family Canidae is sometimes referred to as the dog family, and its characteristics, e.g.
..... Click the link for more information. , bearbear,
large mammal of the family Ursidae in the order Carnivora, found almost exclusively in the Northern Hemisphere. Bears have large heads, bulky bodies, massive hindquarters, short, powerful limbs, very short tails, and coarse, thick fur.
..... Click the link for more information. , raccoonraccoon,
nocturnal New World mammal of the genus Procyon. The common raccoon of North America, Procyon lotor, also called coon, is found from S Canada to South America, except in parts of the Rocky Mts. and in deserts.
..... Click the link for more information. , and weaselweasel,
name for certain small, lithe, carnivorous mammals of the family Mustelidae (weasel family). Members of this family are generally characterized by long bodies and necks, short legs, small rounded ears, and medium to long tails.
..... Click the link for more information. families and the other (Feloidea) includes the catcat,
name applied broadly to the carnivorous mammals constituting the family Felidae, and specifically to the domestic cat, Felis catus. The great roaring cats, the lion, tiger, and leopard are anatomically very similar to one another and constitute the genus
..... Click the link for more information. , civetcivet
or civet cat,
any of a large group of mostly nocturnal mammals of the Old World family Viverridae (civet family), which also includes the mongoose. Civets are not true cats, but the civet family is related to the cat family (Felidae).
..... Click the link for more information. , and hyenahyena
, carnivorous, chiefly nocturnal mammal of the Old World family Hyaenidae. Although doglike in appearance, hyenas are more closely related to civets (family Viverridae) and cats (family Felidae) than to dogs (family Canidae).
..... Click the link for more information. families. The Pinnipedia, often classified as a separate order, includes the sealseal,
carnivorous aquatic mammal with front and hind feet modified as flippers, or fin-feet. The name seal is sometimes applied broadly to any of the fin-footed mammals, or pinnipeds, including the walrus, the eared seals (sea lion and fur seal), and the true seals, also called
..... Click the link for more information. , sea lionsea lion,
fin-footed marine mammal of the eared seal family (Otariidae). Like the other member of this family, the fur seal, the sea lion is distinguished from the true seal by its external ears, long, flexible neck, supple forelimbs, and hind flippers that can be turned forward
..... Click the link for more information. , and walruswalrus,
marine mammal, Odobenus rosmarus, found in Arctic seas. Largest of the fin-footed mammals, or pinnipeds (see seal), the walrus is also distinguished by its long tusks and by cheek pads bearing quill-like bristles.
..... Click the link for more information. 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).
1. any placental mammal of the order Carnivora, typically having large pointed canine teeth and sharp molars and premolars, specialized for eating flesh. The order includes cats, dogs, bears, raccoons, hyenas, civets, and weasels
2. any other animal or any plant that feeds on animals