Members of the mammalian order Carnivora are the descendants of a successful late Paleocene radiation of mammals whose primitive food habits were carnivorous. The name "Carnivora" is sometimes taken to mean that members of this group are all carnivorous or that all carnivorous mammals are members of this group. This is not so. Members of Carnivora have diverse food habits, although many are primarily carnivorous, and carnivory is widely distributed in mammals, being found in many other orders including bats, marsupial mammals, primates, and dolphins and whales.
We recognize 13 extant families and around 270 species of Carnivora.
- Stains, H. 1984. Carnivores. Pp. 491-521 in S Anderson, J Jones Jr., eds. Orders and Families of Recent Mammals of the World. New York: John Wiley and Sons.
- Vaughan, T., J. Ryan, N. Czaplewski. 2000. Mammalogy, 4th Edition. Toronto: Brooks Cole.