A carnivore /ˈkɑːrnɪvɔːr/, meaning "meat eater" (Latin, caro,
genitive carnis, meaning "meat" or "flesh" and vorare meaning "to
devour"), is an organism that derives its energy and nutrient
requirements from a diet consisting mainly or exclusively of animal
tissue, whether through predation or scavenging. 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 carnivores. Omnivores 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 that sits at the top of the food chain is
termed an apex predator.
The word "carnivore" is only refers to the mammalian order Carnivora,
but this is somewhat misleading. While many
The Venus flytrap, a well known carnivorous plant
Carnivores are sometimes characterized by the type of prey that they consume. For example, animals that eat insects and similar invertebrates primarily or exclusively are called insectivores, while those that eat fish primarily or exclusively are called piscivores. The first tetrapods, or land-dwelling vertebrates, were piscivorous amphibians known as 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 50–70%, and that of a hypocarnivore less than 30%, with the balance consisting of non-animal foods such as fruits, other plant material, or fungi.
1 Obligate carnivores 2 Characteristics of carnivores 3 Prehistoric carnivores 4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading
This Bengal tiger's sharp teeth and strong jaws are the classical physical traits expected from carnivorous mammalian predators.
Obligate carnivores, or "true" carnivores, are those carnivores whose
survival depends on nutrients which are found only in animal flesh.
While obligate carnivores might be able to ingest small amounts of
plant material, because of their evolution they lack the necessary
physiology required to digest that plant matter. In fact, some
obligate carnivorous mammals will only ever ingest vegetation for its
specific use as an emetic to self-induce vomiting to rid itself of
food that has upset its stomach. An example is the Axolotl, which
consumes mainly worms and larvae in its environment, but if necessary
will consume algae.
For instance, felids including the domestic cat are obligate
carnivores requiring a diet of primarily animal flesh and organs.
Specifically, cats have high protein requirements and their
metabolisms appear unable to synthesize certain essential nutrients
(including retinol, arginine, taurine, and arachidonic acid), and
thus, in nature, they can rely only on animal flesh as their diet to
supply these nutrients.
Characteristics of carnivores
Characteristics commonly associated with carnivores include organs for
capturing and disarticulating prey (teeth and claws serve these
functions in many vertebrates) and status as a predator. In truth,
these assumptions may be misleading, as some carnivores do not hunt
and are scavengers (though most hunting carnivores will scavenge when
the opportunity exists). Thus they do not have the characteristics
associated with hunting carnivores. Carnivores have comparatively
short digestive systems, as they are not required to break down tough
cellulose found in plants. Many animals that hunt other animals have
evolved eyes that face forward, thus making depth perception possible.
This is almost universal among mammalian predators. Other predators,
like crocodiles, as well as most reptiles and amphibians, have
sideways facing eyes.
The first vertebrate carnivores were fish, and then amphibians that
moved on to land. Early tetrapods were large amphibious piscivores.
Some scientists assert that
Nutrient Requirements: Carnivores. Duane E. Ullrey. Encyclopedia of
Glen, Alistair & Dickman, Christopher (Eds) 2014, Carnivores of Australia, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne, ISBN 978-0-643-10310-8.
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Inter-species biological interactions in ecology
Amensalism Commensalism Competition Deception in animals Inquilinism Mimicry Mutualism Neutralism Synnecrosis Predation
Carnivore Herbivore Intraguild Parasitism Parasitoidism Cheating
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Hematophagy Insectivore Lepidophagy Man-eater Molluscivore Mucophagy Myrmecophagy Ophiophagy Piscivore Avivore Spongivore Vermivore
Oophagy Paedophagy Placentophagy Breastfeeding Weaning
Folivore Florivore Frugivore Graminivore Granivore Nectarivore Palynivore Xylophagy Osteophagy
Microbivory Bacterivore Fungivore Coprophagia Detritivore Geophagia Omnivore Planktivore Saprophagy Xenophagy
Ambush predator Apex predator Bait balls Bottom feeding Browsing Feeding frenzy Filter feeding Grazing Hypercarnivore Hypocarnivore Intraguild predation Kleptoparasitism Lunge feeding Mesocarnivore Pivot feeding Ram feeding Scavenging Suction feeding Trophallaxis
Predation Antipredator adaptation Carnivorous plant Carnivorous fungus Carnivorous protist Category:Eating behaviors
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Ecology: Modelling ecosystems: Trophic components
Autotrophs Chemosynthesis Chemotrophs Foundation species Mixotrophs Myco-heterotrophy Mycotroph Organotrophs Photoheterotrophs Photosynthesis Photosynthetic efficiency Phototrophs Primary nutritional groups Primary production
Generalist and specialist species
Chemoorganoheterotrophy Decomposition Detritivores Detritus
Archaea Bacteriophage Environmental microbiology Lithoautotroph Lithotrophy Microbial cooperation Microbial ecology Microbial food web Microbial intelligence Microbial loop Microbial mat Microbial metabolism Phage ecology
Cold seeps Hydrothermal vents Intertidal Kelp forests Lakes North Pacific Subtropical Gyre Rivers San Francisco Estuary Soil Tide pool
Competitive exclusion principle
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Ecology: Modelling ecosystems: Other components
Abundance Allee effect Depensation Ecological yield Effective population size Intraspecific competition Logistic function Malthusian growth model Maximum sustainable yield Overpopulation in wild animals Overexploitation Population cycle Population dynamics Population modeling Population size Predator–prey (Lotka–Volterra) equations Recruitment Resilience Small population size Stability
Ecological effects of biodiversity
Latitudinal gradients in species diversity
Minimum viable population
Population viability analysis
Relative abundance distribution
Relative species abundance
Antibiosis Biological interaction Commensalism Community ecology Ecological facilitation Interspecific competition Mutualism Storage effect
Alternative stable state
Balance of nature
Biological data visualization