; order Carnivora, superfamily Canoidea)
A family of carnivores, apparently descended from ancestral forms that appeared before the end of the Eocene, that comprises several extinct genera and all extant dogs, jackals, and foxes. They are long-legged and digitigrade, with the pollex and hallux reduced. The claws are blunt, straight, and non-retractile; the teeth are unspecialized, the canines being large, and the cheek teeth adapted for crushing, except for the last upper premolar and first lower molar (the carnassials) which are adapted for cutting. The face is long. The alisphenoid canal is present, the paroccipital process long. The diet is mainly carnivorous but some species eat significant amounts of plant material. There are 13 genera, with about 41 species. Canis species (e.g. the wolf, C. lupus, from which domestic dogs (C. familiaris) are descended, several species of jackals, and the coyote, C. latrans) are distributed world-wide except for Madagascar and some islands. They have been introduced to S. America and Australasia, where some are now feral (e.g. C. dingo, the dingo). Lycaon pictus (Cape hunting dog) is confined to Africa. Chrysocyon brachyurus (maned wolf) is restricted to parts of tropical S. America. Atelocynus microtis (small-eared dog, or zorro) is also S. American. Cuon alpinus (dhole) is distributed throughout much of Asia. The bush dog (Speothos venaticus) hunts in small packs in the S. American tropical forests. Nyctereutes procyonoides (raccoon dog) is a fox-like animal with facial markings reminiscent of those of a raccoon; it is distributed throughout much of Eurasia. Foxes of the Vulpes (e.g. V. vulpes, red fox) and Alopex (e.g. A. lagopus, arctic fox) genera are distributed throughout the Holarctic and N. Africa. Dusicyon ‘foxes’ or culpeos are confined to S. America. The fennec (Fennecus or Vulpes zerda) is confined to Africa; the crab-eating fox (Cerdocyon thous) and several related species to tropical S. America.
Subjects: Zoology and Animal Sciences.