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J Mol Evol. 1996 Feb;42(2):135-44.

Phylogenetic analyses of complete cytochrome b genes of the order carnivora with particular emphasis on the caniformia.

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  • 1Department of Genetics, University of Lund, Sweden.


The evolutionary relationships among the Carnivora were studied in a phylogenetic analysis based on the complete mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. The study, which addressed primarily the relationships among the Caniformia, included 4 feliform and 26 caniform species, with 9 pinnipeds. The analysis identified five caniform clades: Canidae, Ailuridae (with the monotypic lesser panda), Musteloidea (Mustelidae + Procyonidae), Ursidae (including the giant panda), and Pinnipedia. The closest relatives of the Pinnipedia among terrestrial caniforms were not identified conclusively. Our analysis shows that the skunks are only distantly related to remaining mustelids (Mustelidae sensu stricto) and that the family Mustelidae, including the skunks, is paraphyletic. The relationship among the five caniform clades was unresolved, suggesting an evolutionary separation within a relatively short period of time. Based on distance values, we propose that this primary diversification took place approximately 45 million years ago.

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