"Destroying rainforest for economic gain is like burning a Renaissance painting to cook a meal."
- Edward O. Wilson
Personal tools

Procyonidae

From Wildforests
Jump to: navigation, search
Procyonids
Temporal range: 20–0 Ma
Miocene to Recent
225px
Common Raccoon
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Suborder: Caniformia
Superfamily: Musteloidea
Family: Procyonidae
Gray, 1825
Genera

Angustictis
Bassariscus
Probassariscus
Edaphocyon
Arctonasua
Cyonasua
Amphinasua
Chapalmalania
Protoprocyon
Paranasua
Procyon
Nasua
Nasuella
Bassaricynoides
Parapotos
Bassaricyon
Potos

Procyonidae is a New World family of the order Carnivora.[1] It includes the raccoons, coatis, kinkajous, olingos, ringtails and cacomistles. Procyonids inhabit a wide range of environments, and are generally omnivorous.

Contents

Characteristics

Procyonids are relatively small animals, with generally slender bodies and long tails. (The common raccoon tends to be bulky.) Except for the kinkajou, all procyonids have banded tails, and distinct facial markings. These are especially visible in the raccoons. Like bears, procyonids are plantigrade, walking on the soles of their feet. Most species have non-retractile claws.

Because of their omnivorous diet, procyonids have lost some of the adaptations for flesh-eating found in their carnivorous relatives. While they do have carnassial teeth, these are poorly developed in most species, especially the raccoons. Apart from the kinkajou, procyonids have the dental formula:

Dentition
3.1.4.2
3.1.4.2

While coatis are diurnal, all other procyonids are nocturnal. They are mostly solitary animals, and the mother raises litters of up to four young on her own.[2]

Evolution

Fossils belonging to the genus Bassariscus, which includes the modern ringtail and cacomistle, have been identified from the Miocene epoch, around 20 million years ago. It has been suggested that early procyonids were an offshoot of the canids that adapted to a more omnivorous diet.[2]

Classification

Recent genetic studies have shown that the kinkajous were an early offshoot of the ancestral procyonid line and are not closely related to any of the other extant genera; coatis and olingos are closest relatives, while the closest relatives of the raccoons are the ringtails and cacomistles.[3] These data are not yet reflected in the classification scheme, which groups kinkajous and olingos together on the basis of similarities in morphology which are now known to be an example of parallel evolution.

There is considerable uncertainty over the correct classification of several members. The Red Panda was previously classified in this family, but it is now classified it in its own family the Ailuridae, based on molecular biology studies. The status of the various olingos is disputed: they may all be better regarded as subspecies of Bassaricyon gabbii.

Because of their general build, the Procyonidae are often viewed as smaller cousins of the bear family. This is apparent in their German names: a raccoon is called a Waschbär (washing bear, as he "washes" his food before eating), a coati is a Nasenbär (nose-bear) while a Kinkajou is a Honigbär (honey-bear). Dutch follows suit, calling the animals wasbeer, neusbeer and rolstaartbeer respectively.

References

  1. Wozencraft, W. Christopher (16 November 2005). "Order Carnivora (pp. 532–628)". In Wilson, Don E., and Reeder, DeeAnn M., eds. Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2 vols. (2142 pp.). ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 Russell, James (1984). Macdonald, D., ed. The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 98–99. ISBN 0-87196-871-1. 
  3. K.-P. Koepfli, M. E. Gompper, E. Eizirik, C.-C. Ho, L. Linden, J. E. Maldonado, R. K. Wayne (2007). "Phylogeny of the Procyonidae (Mammalia: Carvnivora): Molecules, morphology and the Great American Interchange". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 43 (3): 1076–1095. PMID 17174109. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.10.003.