The diverse orderCarnivora includes over 260 placental mammals. While the Giant Panda is an herbivore, nearly all others eat meat as their primary diet item: some (like the cat family) almost exclusively, others (like the bears and foxes) are more omnivorous. Members of Carnivora have a characteristic skull shape, and their dentition includes prominent canines and carnassials.
Newer classification schemes, which have been able to integrate the findings from molecular techniques for discovering genetic relationships, generally divide the Carnivora into suborders Feliformia and Caniformia, which includes the pinnipeds.
Recent molecular studies suggest that the endemic Carnivora of Madagascar, including three genera classed with the Viverridae and four genera of "mongooses" classed with the Herpestidae, are all descended from a single ancestor, and form a single sister taxon to the Herpestidae.
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