, Volume 42, Issue 2, pp 135-144

Phylogenetic analyses of complete cytochromeb genes of the order Carnivora with particular emphasis on the Caniformia

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The evolutionary relationships among the Carnivora were studied in a phylogenetic analysis based on the complete mitochondrial cytochromeb 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 ∼45 million years ago.