A carnivore , meaning "
Meat is animal flesh that is eaten as food. Humans have hunted and killed animals for meat since prehistoric times. The advent of civilization allowed the domestication of animals such as chickens, sheep, rabbits, pigs and cattle. This eventu ...
Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became the ...
, ''caro'', genitive ''carnis'', meaning "meat" or "flesh" and ''vorare'' meaning "to devour"), is an
Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic material, Cellular respiration#Aerobic respiration, ...
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for an organism
In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology ...
Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior thro ...
requirements derive solely from
Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic material, Cellular respiration#Aerobic respiration, ... tissue
or meat, whether through hunting
Scavengers are animals that consume dead organisms that have died from causes other than predation. While scavenging generally refers to carnivores feeding on carrion, it is also a herbivorous feeding behavior. Scavengers play an important role ...
[Mammals: carnivores. Duane E. Ullrey. Encyclopedia of Animal Science.]
Animals that depend solely on animal flesh for their nutrient requirements are called obligate
carnivores while those that also consume non-animal food are called facultative
An omnivore () is an animal
Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With few exceptions, animals Heterotroph, consume organic material, Cellular ...
s also consume both animal and non-animal food, and, apart from the more general definition, there is no clearly defined ratio of plant to animal material that would distinguish a facultative carnivore from an omnivore. A carnivore at the top of the
The food chain in ecology is a chain of trophic relations.
Food chain can refer to the food system, the complex economic and ecological systems that bring food to consumers.
Food chain may also refer to:
* Food Chain (''Buffy'' comic), a comic ...
, not preyed upon by other animals, is termed an
The great white shark (bottom) was originally considered the apex predator of the ocean; however, the killer whale (top) has proven to be a predator of the shark.
An apex predator, also known as an alpha predator or top predator, is a predator ...
"Carnivore" also may refer to the
Mammals (from Latin language, Latin , 'breast') are a group of vertebrate animals constituting the class (biology), class Mammalia (), and characterized by the presence of mammary glands which in Female#Mammalian female, females produce milk ...
Carnivora is an order of placental mammals that have specialized in primarily eating flesh. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, though some species are omnivorous, such as raccoons and bears, and quite a few species such as pand ...
, but this is somewhat misleading: many, but not all, Carnivora are meat eaters, and even fewer are true obligate carnivores (see below). For example, while the Arctic
The polar bear ('' Ursus maritimus'') is a hypercarnivorous bear whose native range lies largely within the Arctic Circle
The Arctic Circle is one of the two polar circles and the most northerly of the five major circles of latitude a ...
eats meat almost exclusively (more than 90% of its diet is meat), most species of
Bears are carnivora
Carnivora is an order of placental mammals that have specialized in primarily eating flesh. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, though some species are omnivorous, such as raccoons and bears, and quite ...
An omnivore () is an animal that has the ability to eat and survive on both plant and animal matter. Obtaining energy and nutrients from plant and animal matter, omnivores digest carbohydrates, protein, fat, and fiber, and metabolize the nutrien ...
, and the giant panda is exclusively herbivore, herbivorous. There are also many carnivorous species that are not members of Carnivora. The correct term for mammals in this group is "carnivoran". Besides, some mammals, especially the cetaceans, are highly carnivorous yet are not true Carnivorans.
Outside the animal kingdom, there are several genera containing carnivorous plants (predominantly insectivores) and several phyla containing carnivorous fungus, carnivorous fungi (preying mostly on microscopic invertebrates such as nematodes, amoebae and springtails).
Carnivores are sometimes characterized by their List of feeding behaviours#By food type, type of prey. For example, animals that eat mainly insects and similar invertebrates are called insectivores, while those that eat mainly fish are called piscivores. The first tetrapods, or land-dwelling vertebrates, were piscivorous amphibians known as Labyrinthodontia, labyrinthodonts. They gave rise to insectivorous vertebrates and, later, to predators of other tetrapods.
Carnivores may alternatively be classified according to the percentage of meat in their diet. The diet of a hypercarnivore consists of more than 70% meat, that of a mesocarnivore 30–70%, and that of a hypocarnivore less than 30%, with the balance consisting of non-animal foods such as fruits, other plant material, or fungi.
Obligate or "true" carnivores are those whose diet requires nutrients found only in animal flesh. While obligate carnivores might be able to ingestion, ingest small amounts of plant matter, they lack the necessary physiology required to fully digestion, digest it. Some obligate carnivorous mammals will ingest vegetation as an emetic, to self-induce vomiting the food that upset its stomach.
Obligate carnivores are diverse. The amphibian axolotl consumes mainly worms and larvae in its environment, but if necessary will consume algae. All Felidae, felids, including the domestic cat, require a diet of primarily animal flesh and organs. Specifically, cats have high protein requirements and their metabolisms appear unable to synthesize essential nutrients such as retinol, arginine, taurine, and arachidonic acid; thus, in nature, they must consume flesh to supply these nutrients.
Characteristics of carnivores
Characteristics commonly associated with carnivores include strength, speed, and keen senses for hunting, as well as teeth and claws for capturing and tearing prey. However, some carnivores do not hunt and are scavengers, lacking the physical characteristics to bring down prey; in addition, most hunting carnivores will scavenge when the opportunity arises. Carnivores have comparatively short digestive systems, as they are not required to break down the tough cellulose found in plants.
Many hunting animals have evolved eyes facing forward, enabling depth perception. This is almost universal among mammalian predators, while most reptile and amphibian predators have eyes facing sideways.
''Predation'' (the eating of one living creature by another for nutrition) predates the rise of commonly recognized carnivores by hundreds of millions (perhaps billions) of years. The earliest predators were microbial organisms, which engulfed or grazed on others. Because the fossil record is poor, these first predators could date back anywhere between 1 and over 2.7 Gya (billion years ago).
[Origins and Early Evolution of Predation, 2002](_blank)
The rise of eukaryotic cells at around 2.7 Gya, the rise of multicellular organisms at about 2 Gya, and the rise of mobile predators (around 600 Mya – 2 Gya, probably around 1 Gya) have all been attributed to early predatory behavior,
and many very early remains show evidence of boreholes or other markings attributed to small predator species.
Among more familiar species, the first vertebrate carnivores were fish, and then amphibians that moved on to land. Early tetrapods were large amphibious piscivores. Some scientists assert that ''Dimetrodon'' "was the first terrestrial vertebrate to develop the curved, serrated teeth that enable a predator to eat prey much larger than itself." While amphibians continued to feed on fish and later insects, reptiles began exploring two new food types: tetrapods (carnivory) and then plants (herbivory). Carnivory was a natural transition from insectivory for medium and large tetrapods, requiring minimal adaptation; in contrast, a complex set of adaptations was necessary for feeding on highly fibrous plant materials.
In the Mesozoic, some theropod dinosaurs such as ''Tyrannosaurus, Tyrannosaurus rex'' were probably obligate carnivores. Though the theropods were the larger carnivores, several carnivorous mammal groups were already present. Most notable are the Gobiconodontidae, gobiconodontids, the Triconodontidae, triconodontid ''Jugulator (mammal), Jugulator'', the Deltatheroida, deltatheroideans and ''Cimolestes''. Many of these, such as ''Repenomamus'', ''Jugulator'' and ''Cimolestes'', were among the largest mammals in their faunal assemblages, capable of attacking dinosaurs.
[Zofia Kielan-Jaworowska, Richard L. Cifelli, Zhe-Xi Luo (2004). "Chapter 12: Metatherians". Mammals from the Age of Dinosaurs: origins, evolution, and structure. New York: Columbia University Press. pp. 425–262. .]
In the early-to-mid-Cenozoic, the dominant predator forms were mammals: Hyaenodonta, hyaenodonts, Oxyaenidae, oxyaenids, entelodonts, ptolemaiidans, Arctocyonidae, arctocyonids and mesonychians, representing a great diversity of eutherian carnivores in the northern continents and Africa. In South America, Sparassodonta, sparassodonts were dominant, while Australia saw the presence of several marsupial predators, such as the Dasyuromorphia, dasyuromorphs and Thylacoleonidae, thylacoleonids. From the Miocene to the present, the dominant carnivorous mammals have been Carnivoramorpha, carnivoramorphs.
Most carnivorous mammals, from dogs to ''Deltatheridium'', share several dental adaptations, such as carnassialiforme teeth, long canine tooth, canines and even similar tooth replacement patterns. Most aberrant are Thylacoleonidae, thylacoleonids, with a diprodontan dentition completely unlike that of any other mammal; and eutriconodonts like gobioconodontids and ''Jugulator'', with a three-cusp anatomy which nevertheless functioned similarly to carnassials.
[Eating Encyclopedia. ]
Animales Carnivoros. Ejemplos, alimentacion y curiosidades
*Glen, Alistair & Dickman, Christopher (Eds) 2014, Carnivores of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, .
Animals by eating behaviors