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Fossil range: 65–0 Ma
Paleocene - Recent
Grizzly bears
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Kretzoi, 1943


Caniformia, or Canoidea (literally "dog-like") are a suborder within the order Carnivora. They typically possess a long snout and non-retractile claws (in contrast to the cat-like carnivores, the Feliformia). The Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions, and walruses) evolved from caniform ancestors and are accordingly assigned to this group. Most members of this group have non-retractile claws (the ring-tailed cat's claws are semi-retractile[1]) and tend to be plantigrade (with the exception of Canidae). Another trait that separates them from the Feliformia is that they have more teeth. They have a longer rostrum with less specialized carnassials. They tend more towards omnivorous and opportunity-based feeding, while the feliforms are more specialized in eating meat. Caniforms have single-chambered or partially divided auditory bullae, composed of a single bone, while in feliforms the auditory bullae are double-chambered, composed of two bones joined by a septum.


Extant families

Caniformia consists of twelve families, with nine extant and three extinct. At one time, Hyaenidae were included, but are now grouped with feliforms. Terrestrial caniforms in the wild are found on all continents with the exception of Antarctica, while pinnipeds are distributed throughout the world's oceans.

Dog (Canis lupus familiaris)

The Family Canidae (canids, commonly known as either dogs or canines) includes wolves, dogs, foxes and so on. They are the most social of all the caniforms, living in packs. The dog is the most diverse of all mammals in terms of body structure. The Canidae family is divided into the "true dogs" of the tribe Canini and the "foxes" of the tribe Vulpini. The two species of the basal Caninae are more primitive and don't fit into either tribe.

Giant Panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)

The Family Ursidae (the bears) are the largest of all the land caniforms. They range from the large polar bear (males, 775–1500+ lb) to the small sun bear (males, 66–132 lb) and from the endangered giant panda to the very common black bear. Common characteristics of modern bears include a large body with stocky legs, a long snout, shaggy hair, plantigrade paws with five nonretractile claws, and a short tail. While the polar bear is mostly carnivorous and the giant panda feeds almost entirely on bamboo, the remaining six species are omnivorous, with largely varied diets including both plants and animals.

Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens)

The Family Ailuridae (red panda) was once thought to be either part of the Procyonidae or the Ursidae. It now belongs to its own family. It is found in the Himalayas, including southern China, Nepal, Bhutan, India and Pakistan but may have also lived in North America.[2]

Striped Skunk (Mephitis mephitis)

The Family Mephitidae (skunks), once thought to be part of the Mustelidae, is now a group in its own right. There are 11 species of skunks, which are divided into four genera: Mephitis (hooded and striped skunks, two species), Spilogale (spotted skunks, two species), Mydaus (stink badgers, two species), and Conepatus (hog-nosed skunks, five species). The two skunk species in the Mydaus genus inhabit Indonesia and the Philippines; all other skunks inhabit the Americas from Canada to central South America.

European Otter (Lutra lutra)

The Family Mustelidae (weasels and otters) is the most diverse of the group. While highly variable in shape, size and behavior, most mustelids are smaller animals with short legs, short round ears, and thick fur. Mustelids are predominantly carnivorous. While not all mustelids share identical dentition, they all possess teeth adapted for eating flesh, including the presence of shearing carnassials.

Common Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

The Family Procyonidae (raccoons, coatis, etc.), are smallish animals, with generally slender bodies and long tails. Except for the kinkajou, all procyonids have banded tails, and distinct facial markings and, like bears, are plantigrade, walking on the soles of their feet. Most species have non-retractile claws. It has been suggested that early procyonids were an offshoot of the canids that adapted to a more omnivorous diet.[3]

The Superfamily Pinnipedia (seals, sea lions, walruses) are a widely distributed and diverse group of semi-aquatic marine mammals descended from a common ancestor most closely related to modern bears.[4] The superfamily comprises three families:

Leopard Seal (Hydrurga leptonyx)
Phocidae: (true seals or earless seals) comprise around 19 species of highly aquatically adapted, barrel-shaped animals ranging from 1.2 meters and 45 kg in length (the Ringed Seal), to 5 meters and 2,400kg (Southern Elephant Seal). Phocids are found throughout the world's oceans.
New Zealand Sea Lion (Phocarctos hookeri)
Otariidae: (the eared seals, including sea lions and fur seals) Distributed throughout the world's oceans with the exception of the North Atlantic, the 16 species of otariid are distinguished from the phocids by visible external ears (pinnae), more dog-like faces and the ability to turn their rear flippers forward.
Odobenidae (the walrus is the only surviving member). A large (2000 kg), distinctive pinniped with long whiskers and tusks, the walrus has a discontinuous circumpolar distribution in the Arctic Ocean and sub-Arctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. It is primarily a benthic forager of bivalve mollusks and other marine invertebrates.

Evolutionary history

Miacis sp.

The caniforms first appeared as tree-climbing, marten-like carnivores in the Paleocene (65–55 million years ago). Miacis was probably an early caniform. Like many other early carnivorans, it was well suited for an arboreal climbing lifestyle with needle sharp claws, and had limbs and joints that resemble those of modern carnivorans. Miacis was probably a very agile forest dweller that preyed upon smaller animals, such as small mammals, reptiles, and birds, and might also have eaten eggs and fruits, making Miacis an omnivore.

Recent molecular evidence suggests that pinnipeds evolved from a bearlike ancestor about 23 million years ago during the late Oligocene or early Miocene epochs, a transitional period between the warmer Paleogene and cooler Neogene period.[5]


Family Tree


AmphicyonidaeAmphicyon ingens.JPG

Canidae YellowLabradorLooking new.jpg Canis lupus laying in grass.jpg Vulpes vulpes sitting.jpg Black Backed Jackal Masaai Mara April 2008.JPG


HemicyonidaeHemicyon sansaniensis.JPG

Ursidae Content sow.jpg


EnaliarctidaeEnaliarctos mealsi.JPG




OtariidaeNeophoca cinerea.JPG



Ailuridae Chengdu-firefox-d03.jpg


MephitidaeStriped Skunk.jpg


ProcyonidaeProcyon lotor 2.jpg



  1. ^
  2. ^ "Two new carnivores from an unusual late Tertiary forest biota in eastern North America". Retrieved 2007-02-27. 
  3. ^ Russell, James (1984). Macdonald, D.. ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 98–99. ISBN 0-87196-871-1. 
  4. ^ Lento, G.M., Hickson, R.E., Chambers, G.K., Penny, D. (1995). "Use of spectral analysis to test hypotheses on the origin of pinnipeds". Molecular Biology and Evolution 12 (1): 28–52. PMID 7877495. 
  5. ^ John J. Flynn et al (2005). "Molecular Phylogeny of the Carnivora". Systematic Biology 54 (2): 317 – 337. doi:10.1080/10635150590923326. PMID 16012099. 

External links


Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary




See Canis

Proper noun

Wikipedia has an article on:



  1. (taxonomy) A taxonomic suborder within the order Carnivora — the pandas, dogs, skunks, walruses, sea lions, seals, racoons, and bears.
Wikispecies has information on:


See also


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies


Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Unikonta
Cladus: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Mammalia
Subclassis: Theria
Infraclassis: Placentalia
Superordo: Laurasiatheria
Ordo: Carnivora
Subordo: Caniformia
Familiae: Ailuridae - †Amphicyonidae - †Hemicyonidae - Canidae - Mephitidae - Mustelidae - Odobenidae - Otariidae - Phocidae - Procyonidae - Ursidae


Caniformia Kretzoi, 1938


  • Caniformia on Mammal species of the World.
    Don E. Wilson & DeeAnn M. Reeder (editors). 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed).
  • Mammal Species of the World, A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference, 3rd edition, 2005 ISBN 0801882214
  • Caniformia Kretzoi, 1938 Report on ITIS

Vernacular names

Català: Caniforme
Deutsch: Hundeartige
English: Caniformia
Español: Caniformia
Français: Caniformia
Galego: Caniformia
한국어: 개아목
Hrvatski: Canoidea
Italiano: Caniformia
Latviešu: Suņveidīgie
Lëtzebuergesch: Hondsdéieren
Magyar: Kutyaalkatúak
Nederlands: Caniformia
日本語: イヌ亜目
‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Hundelignende rovdyr
Occitan: Caniformia
Polski: Psokształtne
Português: Caniformia
Русский: Псообразные
Seeltersk: Canoidea
Simple English: Caniformia
Svenska: Hundliknande rovdjur
Tiếng Việt: Phân bộ Dạng chó
Türkçe: Köpeğimsiler
Українська: Собакоподібні
中文: 犬形亜目

Simple English

Fossil range: Paleocene - Recent
Grizzly bears
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Kretzoi, 1943

Caniformia is a suborder of the order Carnivora. It contains all the dog-like mammals: Unlike the cat-like Feliformia, these animals have claws that are unable to contract. This group contains bears, seals, and true dogs, and more.

The other suborder of Carnivora is the cat-like Feliformia.























Other websites

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Look up Caniformia in Wikispecies, a directory of species


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