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Carnivores

(Order: Carnivora)

Carnivora is an order of placental mammals, characterised by their adaptation to feed primarily on flesh. Some members, such as bears, are omnivorous, while others eat no flesh at all and are specialized herbivores, the most notable being the Panda.

The order Carnivora is the fifth largest order of mammals with members occupying almost every habitat type and occuring around the globe. Some are adapted to a largely aquatic life, such as the seals, while others have become domesticaed as companion animals for humans.

The order can be split into two major groups: the cat-like Feliformia and the dog-like Caniformia. the structure of their ear bones and cranial features seperate the two.

The smallest member of the order is the least weasel (Mustela nivalis) with a body length of about 11 cm and a weight of about 25 g, while the largest is the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), adult males growing up to a massive 5,000 kg in weight and 6.7 m in length.

Some species such as the dingo (Canis familiaris dingo) [which shares a common ancestral path with the domestic dog], cat (Felis cattus), red fox (Vulpes vulpes) and stoat (Mustela erminea) have been introduced to Australasia and are major predators of native and domestic wildlife. They have caused many native species to become endangered or even extinct.

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