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University of Toronto St. George
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology

Caniformia Canidae • Within Caniformia there are multiple families o A much more fairly diverse groups compared to Feliformia • Dog-like Caniformia are probably the most basal in the group o Genus Canis o Includes dogs, wolves and foxes • Specialized carnivores • Canidae have well-developed carnassial pair • Digitigrade posture => adapted for long-distance running o If you’re adapted for running, you have elongated limbs and concentration of musculature on the top of limb o Reduced rotational capacity of the limbs => fore-and-aft movement rather than lateral movement  Increases running efficiency but reduces maneuverability  But some of this maneuverability is regained by decreasing the amount with the ground => hence, digitigrade posture • Non-retractile claws • Long, bushy tails • In the family, they have elongated rostrums o Primitive from the group => extensive turbinal bones in the rostrum o Rely heavily on sense of smell • Post-carnassial teeth (rear molars) tend to be expanded laterally, especially in the back o Provides crushing surface • Full complement of teeth => highly differentiated, which allows for different functions o Dogs, coyotes, and foxes have greater variety of food stuff than cats o Some coyotes actually eat fruit other than meat o There some canids that are specialized on molluscs, insects, fruit, carrion, etc • Many species of canids hunt it groups, but some are solitary o Travelling in packs enables them to take prey larger than themselves o Example: wolf packs, coyotes in Ontario • Ontario has been described as Canid soup o A lot of different carnivores (especially Canids in Ontario) have hybridized o Eastern wolf is distinct species from grey wolf  Eastern wolf is more closely related to coyotes than it is to grey wolf  Coyotes have only been in the province since 1940s (form the west)  When coyotes encountered eastern wolf, there was hybridization => more in the past than present  All populations of eastern wolves have mixture of coyote genes in them o Coyotes in Ontario have influx of integration of wolf genes  Ontario coyotes are larger than usual => occurred through contact with eastern wolf  They are the most variable coyotes across North America o People in Toronto will say that they have seen a wolf, but there are no wolves in Toronto  They are all coyotes o Very confusing as to what the wolf/coyote populations are doing in Ontario because there is the eastern wolf, coyote, dogs, and grey wolf  All have potential to hybridize, but the only evidence we have is between eastern wolf and coyotes  Nearest relative of eastern wolf is the red wolf, which is found in southeastern U.S. Ursidae • Bears; about 5 genera and 8 species of bears • Worldwide in distribution (except Australia) • Only situated in the Andes in South America • Not found anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa • Cursorially adapted => short, massive limbs o Not adapted for running => much more flexible than Canidae • Much more omnivorous o Less-specialized carnivorous dentition o Carnassial pair is poorly developed • Female polar bears stay with their young in the den while male polar bears go out in the wild o Females will not feed until late spring o Only actively feeding 2 months a year • A lot of bears hibernate • Slow maturation process => it takes 3 years for bears to be sexually active • Polar bears are more closely related to brown bears (grizzle bears, etc.) o Probably derived in the last 100000 years or less o We know that they are a very young species (recently derived), yet they have a large sweep of modification and adaptive characters which distinguish them from brown bears o A lot of these characters relate to being aquatic => allows polar bears to transition into a more semi-aquatic lifestyle and occupy habitats that brown bears could not (shift into a different environment mediated by rapid adaptation) • Pandas were debated whether or not they were related to raccoons or bears o A paper proved that they were bears based on comparative immunology o Vegetarian bear, but it is a bear • Red pandas are even more confusing o Appears to be at the base of the lineage that led to bears => distantly related to bears o Looks like a raccoon • In fossil records, bears look really small and look a lot like red pandas in terms of their skeletal form Mephitidae o True skunks both in New and Old world o Omnivorous => wider variety of food stuffs o Takes a lot of insects, carrion, eggs, etc. o Similar to Mustelidae, they have anal scent glands (both males and females) o NOTE: mammals are char
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