carnivora

Raccoon Dog (Carnivora: Canidae: Nyctereutes procyonoides)

Often mistaken for a badger or a raccoon, the raccoon dog is actually more closely related to wild dogs. That being said, they act more like raccoons as they scavenge for berries along riverbanks. Raccoon dogs are often hunted as pests. Their luck in the illegal fur trade is no better, often attracting the attention of animal welfare groups. Their adaptability in the wild allows them to quickly become an unwelcome invasive species out of Asia. However, this sneaky trickster is well honoured in Japanese folklore as a master of disguise. Raccoon dog, or “Tanuki”, figurines are often places outside of Buddhist to bring good fortune by showing off a friendly smile.

Nilgiri Marten (Martes gwatkinsii)

…a species of marten that is endemic to southern India, where it occurs in the hills of the Nilgiris and parts of the western Ghats. Not much is known about their biology but they are known to be diurnal and chiefly arboreal. However, they are also known to descend to the ground occasionally as well. Their diet consists mainly of small birds and mammals and insects.

Currently the Nilgiri marten is listed as vulnerable and likely faces threats due to its limited range.

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Carnivora-Mustelidae-Martes-M. gwatkinsii

Image: N.A Naseer

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Bear teeth from Teeth.

This image proved invaluable when slogging my through the works of an extravagant taxonomist for The Patriarchal Bear. Long story short, he was probably full of crap.

The taxonomy of this image is a bit eccentric itself; ’Thalarctos’ is the polar bear (normally Ursus maritimus) and ’Selenarctos’ is the Asian Black Bear (normally Ursus thibetanus). Apparently ’Ursus’ encompasses both American Black and Brown Bears. The latter two bears belong to a separate branch known as tremarctines; Tremarctos is still extant (and known as Spectacled Bears) and Arctodus are the extinct deep-faced bears from North America.

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Carnivora!

All members of the order Carnivora fall into one of two sub-orders: Feliformia (cat-like), or Caniformia (dog-like). Outward appearance of carnivora can be deceiving; most people would classify the hyena and aard-wolf as “dog-like”, while the weasels and pole-martens are commonly considered “cat-like”, which they are not.

The Feliformidae are obligate carnivores; that is, they must eat meat to survive, as their body cannot produce one or more nutrients that cannot be found in plants, or that their digestive tracts cannot absorb large amounts of non-animal matter. They are not all hypercarnivorans (meat making up >70% of the diet), however. The order Feliformia includes all of the cats (Felidae), mongooses and meerkats (Herpestidae), hyenas (Hyaenidae), civets and genets (Viverridae), as well as two very small families: the Nandiniidae, which contains only the African palm civet; and the Prionodontidae, which contains the two Asiatic linsangs. 

Caniformidae include the seals, sea lions, and walruses (Pinnipedia); true dogs (Canidae); bears (Ursidae); skunks (Mephitidae); badgers, weasels, and otters (Mustelidae); raccoons, coatis, and kinkajous (Procyonidae); and the family containing only the red panda (Ailuridae).

Most Caniformidae (except for the Canidae, interestingly enough) are plantigrade - that is, they walk on all of their podial and tarsal bones on the ground at the same time. This affords greater stability and weight-bearing ability and is helpful when standing your ground or trying to balance in trees.

The Feliformidae (and the true dogs, or Canidae) are almost completely digitigrade - they walk on just their finger and toe bones, and have elongated “heel” bones and Achilles tendons. Digitigrade animals can move much more quickly and quietly than plantigrade animals, and their specialized “heels” allow for spring-type motion, like what you see in cats. 

Huge h/t to the ever-awesome Emily Graslie of The Brain Scoop for finding the words to simplify something I’ve wanted to post on for a while ;D Go watch The Brain Scoop and get smart!

More on Tetrapodal Locomotion!
The Brain Scoop

Images from:

[Wolverine, Walrus] American Animals. Witmer Stone and William Everett Cram, 1902.

[Spotted Hyena, California Sea Lion] The Book of the Animal Kingdom: Mammals. W. Percivall Westell, 1910.

[Black-Footed Ferret, Polar Bear] Quadrupeds of North America. John James Audubon, 1851.

[Kinkajou, Lion] Dictionnaire Universel d'Histoire Naturelle. M. Charles d'Orbigny, 1849.

Oncilla (Leopardus tigrinus)

Also known as the Little spotted cat or tirgillo, the oncilla is a small species of spotted cat that is native to montane and tropical rainforests in Central and South America, ranging from Costa Rica through northern Argentina south to southern Brazil. Like other small cats oncilla are chiefly nocturnal and terrestrial, feeding on a wide range of small vertebrates and occasionally invertebrates. 

Currently Leopardus tigrinus is listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN, as they face threats from deforestation and poaching for their pelts.

Classification

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Carnivora-Felidae-Leopardus-L. tigrinus

Image: Tambako The Jaguar

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The Procyonidae (The “Before-Dogs”)

Procyonidae include the raccoons, coatis, cacomistles (ringtail “cats”), kinkajous and olingo/olinguitos. They’re native to North and South America, and likely split off from the canids around 25 million years ago.

Many members of this family have distinctive facial markings and ringed tails, though the olingos and kinkajous do not. The kinkajous have prehensile tails, which is a trait shared with only one other carnivoran, the binturong (“bearcat”) of South-East Asia.

These species are members of the superfamily Musteloidea, which includes red pandas, weasels, and skunks. Well, it might. Current phylogenetic studies seem to indicate that this might not be a truly-related group, but for now they’re still classified together.

Despite being members of the Caniforma (“dog-shaped”) suborder, which are members of the Carnivora, the Procyonidae don’t have any carnassal teeth - part of their more-omnivorous opportunistic diet, compared to the rest of their suborder. Carnassal teeth are needed for ripping and shredding flesh, and are essential in hunters like wolves and bears. While each species of the Procyonidae has preferred foods, they’re not obligate consumers of any one thing, allowing them to adapt and survive in an increasingly-urban world.

Images:

The Quadrupeds of North America. John James Audubon, 1851

Leopard cat | ©Gaschwald

The Leopard cat (Prionailurus bengalensis) is a small wild cat native to Asia with five recognized subspecies, whose patterns of genetic variation is currently under study.

The leopard cat is a widespread species in Asia, where occurs in a broad spectrum of habitats, from tropical rainforest to temperate broadleaf and, marginally, coniferous forest, as well as shrub forest and successional grasslands.

The species is classified as Least Concern in the IUCN Red List, but it is included on CITES Appendix II; populations in Bangladesh, India and Thailand are included on Appendix I (as Prionailurus bengalensis bengalensis). The species is protected at the national level over part of its range, with hunting prohibited in several countries.

Source.

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Andean Mountain Cat (Leopardus jacobita)

…is a species of wild cat found only in the Andean mountain range in South America. They are extremely rare and make their home in inhospitable areas, which makes studying them difficult. However they are known to live in high elevation areas where they prey on chinchillas and viscachas which they hunt among the rocks. Vischachas are also prey to the similar Pampas cat (L. pajeros) which is in direct competition with the Andean mountain cat. Since these two felines hunt at the same time and eat the same prey finding food becomes more difficult, and an race for food has begun. Because of this and other factors like habitat loss and hunting the Andean mountain cat has been listed as endangered with only 2,500 animals though to be exist.

Phylogeny

Animalia-Chordata-Mammalia-Carnivora-Felidae-Leopardus-jacobita

Image Source(s)

Galidictis vittata (now Galidictis fasciata) - Broad-Striped Malagasy Mongoose

The three species of Malagasy mongooses are not closely related to the Herpestidae (True Mongooses). They’re more related to other Malagasy (Madagascar) carnivores such as the fossa and Malagasy civet.

When I was going through my files I thought this was a fat furry garter snek from the thumbnail. Still not sure I’m incorrect.

The Zoology of the HMS Samarang. Captain Sir Edward Belcher, 1850.

The Golden Tabby tiger: one of the world’s rarest big cats

The Golden Tabby Tiger is an extremely rare colour variation of this exquisite wild cat, and not a separate subspecies. Usually, a Golden Tabby Tiger (or a Strawberry Tiger, as it is sometimes known) is simply a different colored version of the Bengal Tiger subspecies, Panthera tigris tigris.

This tiger is characterized by its gorgeous fawn-coloured (or pale gold) fur with its light-orange stripes and pale (sometimes white) belly and legs. The fur is thicker and softer than other tigers’ fur, giving it a distinctly luxurious look and feel. 

The Golden Tabby Tiger is, to the best of modern knowledge, only in existence in captivity today. And, even in this protected environment, there are only about 30 or fewer of these animals in the world, testifying to its great rarity.

However, there are more tigers that carry the gene (although they display no physical characteristics thereof), slightly improving the chance of more being born. The more that Golden Tabby Tigers are allowed to breed only with one another, the more likely they are to produce more such colour variations, although this is not guaranteed.

Genetically speaking, this tiger has the genes of a normal orange-coloured cat, but also two copies of a recessive wide band gene. This is what lends the Golden Tabby its gorgeous white and ginger markings. Usually, a Strawberry Tiger is the result of a zoo’s breeding white and common orange tigers together (whether intentionally or by accident), rather than a deliberate attempt at breeding Golden Tabbies [1].

This type of tiger became extinct in the wild in 1932 when the last two were shot in Mysore Padesh, India [2].

Photo credit: ©Alida Jorissen