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Carnivora /kɑːrˈnɪvərə/ is an order of placental mammals that have specialized in primarily eating flesh, whose members are formally referred to as carnivorans. The order Carnivora is the fifth largest order of mammals, comprising at least 279 species.

Quick facts: Carnivoran Temporal range 51.88–0 Ma P...
Temporal range: 51.88–0 Ma Early Eocene-Holocene[1]
Various carnivorans, with feliforms to the left, and caniforms to the right
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Clade: Carnivoramorpha
Clade: Carnivoraformes
Order: Carnivora
Bowdich, 1821[2]
list of synonyms:
  • Caniformes (Zagorodniuk, 2008)[3][4]
  • Carnaria (Haeckel, 1866)[5]
  • Carnassidentia (Wortman, 1901)[6]
  • Carnivoramorphia (Kalandadze & Rautian, 1992)[7]
  • Carnivores (Cuvier, 1817)[8]
  • Carnivori (Vieq d'Azyr, 1792)[9]
  • Carnivorida (Pearse, 1936)[10][11]
  • Carnivoriformes (Kinman, 1994)[12]
  • Carnivoripedida (Vyalov, 1966)[13]
  • Cynofeliformia (Ginsburg, 1982)
  • Cynofeloidea (Hough, 1953)[14]
  • Cynosia (Rafinesque, 1815)[15]
  • Digitigrada (Illiger, 1811)[16]
  • Digitigradae (Gray, 1821)[17]
  • Eucarnivora (Mekayev, 2002)[18]
  • Ferae (Linnaeus, 1758)[19]
  • Fissipeda (Blumenbach, 1791)[20]
  • Neocarnivora (Radinsky, 1977)[21]
  • Plantigrada (Illiger, 1811)

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 with a wide diversity of shapes and sizes.

Carnivora can be divided into two suborders: the Feliformia, containing the true felines and several feline-like forms, and the Caniformia, containing the true canids (such as wolves and dingos) and many somewhat "dog-like" forms such as sea lions and bears. 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.[22]