Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Carnivora, an order of predaceous mammals, corresponding to the Ferae of Linnaeus, without the Marsupials and Insectivora which he included. The majority of the forms feed on animal food; the typical forms - the larger cats - prey upon warm-blooded animals; in many the diet is of a mixed nature; and in a few, as in some bears, it is chiefly vegetable. It should be also noted that a mere flesh diet does not constitute an animal one of the Carnivora, for the Tasmanian Devil, exclusively an animal feeder, is a marsupial, and the blood-sucking vampire-bat belongs to the Chiroptera. The Carnivora are organised for a life of rapine, and are aptly designated by the popular name "beasts of prey." The toes are armed with strong claws, and are never less than four in number; the incisor teeth are generally three on each side in each jaw; the canines are long, strong, and recurved; the other teeth are variable in number, and are more or less modified into cutting organs according as the diet consists more or less largely of flesh. The highest type of carnivorous dentition may be seen on a small scale by examining the mouth of a domestic cat. The brain always presents well-marked convolutions, and some systematists place this order at the head of the animal kingdom. The Carnivora were formerly divided into three groups: (1) Pinnigrada (having the limbs modified into fin-like organs); (2) Digitigrada (walking on the tips of the toes); (3) Plantigrada (walking on the sole of the foot). The first was equivalent to the modern Carnivora Pinnipedia, which includes the seals and walrus. The other two together were equivalent to the Carnivora Fissipedia, or True Carnivora. The second group included the AEluroidea and Cynoidea, and the third the Arctoidea. (See these words.) The Carnivora are practically world-wide in their distribution, and fossil remains occur in all Tertiary formations.