Carmyora (Lat. caro, gen. carnis, flesh, and voro, to eat), an order of mammals which feed upon flesh, as distinguished from the herbivora, or vegetable feeders. This order has been divided into various groups by different authors, some including in it the cheiroptera and insecti-vora, and others limiting it to the following five families, which agree in their most essential characters, viz.: ursidae, or bears; mustelidae, or weasels; canidae, or dogs; felidae, or cats; and phocidae, or seals. The bears constitute the plantigrades, the seals the pinnigrades, and the other three the digitigrades, according as the whole foot or only the toes touch the ground, or as the extremities are modified into fin-like paddles. The felidae are the most truly carnivorous, and constitute the type of the order; and in them the large canine teeth, sharp retractile claws, and great strength and agility indicate a special formation for the pursuit and destruction of living prey. The skeleton exhibits the modifications adapted for the manner of life in the shape of the bones, their articulations, and proportions.
In the felidae the spine is flexible, yet strong, with a large development of the lumbar portion; the ribs are narrow and far apart, the limbs long and affording the greatest freedom of motion, and the skull short and broad. In the weasels the spine is lengthened in accordance with the habits of these prowling creatures. In the bears the foot is placed wholly on the ground, and the shortness of the lumbar region of the spine adds to the firmness and strength of limb required in these less carnivorous animals. In the seals the posterior limbs are extended backward into two horizontal fins, the anterior also serving in addition for a limited progression on land. The cranium is remarkable for the shortness and strength of its facial or tooth-bearing portion, and for the crests and large fossa) for the accommodation of the powerful muscles of mastication; in the cats the tentorium cerebelli is bony, evidently to protect the brain during the sudden movements of leaping upon their prey, and the whole bony structure is remarkably solid; the lower jaw is strong and short in proportion to the carnivorous propensity of the genus.
The vertebras of the neck are remarkable for the size of the first two; the dorsals and the number of ribs vary from 13 (the most common) to 16; the lumbar vertebra), always numerous in proportion to the leaping powers, vary from 4 to 7; the sacrum is composed of several vertebras, and in the bears is remarkably broad, for the support of the body in their frequently erect position; the tail is the longest in the most active species, as in the lion and the panther. The shoulder blade is flat and broad; the clavicle, when not entirely wanting, is quite rudimentary; the humerus is arched, short, and strong; the bones of the forearm have but little motion on each other, except in the ursidae, and the ulna is generally placed behind the radius, both of them in the seals being broad and flat; the metacarpus is much larger in the digitigrades than in the plantigrades. The retractile claws of the felidae are described in the article Cat, in which family they are most developed. The pelvis is short, and its bones broad and flat; the thigh bone is moderately long, and directed immediately downward, except in the seals, in which its direction is outward.
The bones of the leg are generally separate; the tarsus consists of the usual five bones, but the tuberosity of the os calcis is quite long and strong; the inner metatarsal bone in the cats and dogs is merely rudimentary; in the weasels the inner toe is small, in the cats wanting, and in the plantigrades in the same range as the others; in the plantigrade foot everything is arranged for slow and steady walking, in the digitigrade for leaping and tearing, and in the pinnigrade for swimming. The muscles in this order, especially of the jaws, neck, and anterior extremities, are enormously large and powerful. In the typical carnivora, the incisor teeth are small, and placed in the intermaxillary bone; the canines, situated above, at the junction of the intermaxilla-ries with the superior maxillaries, are strong, long, and cutting, slightly curved, and admirably adapted for tearing their prey; the cheek teeth have cutting edges, the lower shutting within the upper like the blades of scissors, and are provided with sharp triangular processes; the teeth are arranged in a short space, and their action is rendered more efficacious by the shortness of the whole jaw, and by the simple hinge-like motion of the lower jaw; in the seals the canines are much smaller, but the cheek teeth are furnished with numerous sharp points for the purpose of holding the slippery and scaly fish upon which they feed; in the bears the jaws are much longer, and the molars are flattened and tubercular, indicating the far less carnivorous propensities of this family.
The carnivora, in proportion to their approach to the typical felidae, whose food when swallowed is so like their own tissues that it is ready for speedy assimilation, have a short intestinal canal; in the lion it is but three times the length of the body, and has very few internal folds, and a very small csocum, while in man it is five times as long, in the horse 10 times, in the sheep 28 times; such is the relation between the organs, that the form of the teeth indicates the character of the intestinal canal, the armature of the feet, the mode of progression, and very nearly the habits and mode of life of an animal. The lobes of the liver vary in number from four in the badger to eight in the lynx, without any apparent physiological reason; the hepatic ducts correspond in number to the lobes, and the common duct, before it enters the intestinal cavity, frequently receives a pancreatic duct; the gall bladder is always present, and in the ursidae is of great size; the pancreas and spleen do not differ, except in form, from these organs in other mammals; the chyle is so noted for its opacity and whiteness, that the discovery of the lacteals was made in these animals long before they were seen in man.
The carnivora belong to the sub-class gyrencephala of Owen, in which the cerebral hemispheres are the largest developed (except in man), extending over a portion of the cerebellum and the olfactory lobes; in this arrangement they are next to the quadrumana or monkeys; the hemispheres have well marked though simple convolutions. The organs of sense are well developed; in the diurnal carnivora the pupil is round; in the cats it is elongated vertically, and in a very bright light almost linear, but it is round in the dark, causing the brilliant tape-turn of the posterior arch of the choroid to appear like a ball of fire; the large size of the mastoid process, communicating with the cavity of the tympanum, indicates considerable acuteness of the sense of hearing, necessary for animals seeking their prey during the stillness of night; the sense of smell, especially in the canidae, is very acute, and the pituitary membrane is extended greatly by means of the complicated convolutions of the turbinated bones; the sense of taste is probably not very acute, and the tongue of the cats is covered in its middle portion with horny spines, well calculated to tear the flesh from bones.
The kidneys in some families, as in the bears and seals, are much subdivided, resembling a bunch of grapes; in the cats the divisions are hardly perceptible. In the civets and allied genera there are glandular follicles, which secrete a peculiar odorous substance, sometimes exceedingly fetid; the glands are usually situated near the anus, and the excretory ducts open between the rectum and the genital organs. The testes are generally pendulous and external, but in the seals they remain permanently within the abdominal cavity; the vesicular sejninales do not exist, but organs resembling the prostate and Cow-per's glands are generally found; in almost all there is a bone in the penis, the hyaena forming an exception, it is said; the teats are abdomidal, ranging from four in the lioness to ten in the bitch; the placenta is zonular, surrounding the foetus. - The geographical distribution of the carnivora is very extensive, but the largest and most destructive species are confined to the tropics of the old world; the tiger is limited to Asia, the lion to Asia and Africa, the cougar to America; the largest bears frequent the arctic regions, and the largest seals the antarctic waters.
The carnivora fulfil an important purpose in the economy of nature, by keeping in check the increase of the herbivorous animals, whose countless numbers would otherwise destroy vegetation, and thus cause their own and a general destruction. - Cuvier associated under the name camassiers the cheiroptera, insectivora, carnivora, and marsupials; excluding the latter, which form a sub-class by themselves, many more recent authors adopt a somewhat similar classification. Prof. Agassiz, in his "Essay on Classification," divides mammals into three orders, marsupialia, herbivora, and carnivora, the last the highest in the scale. Prof. Owen divides his sub-class gyrencephala into the three primary divisions of mutilata (including the cetaceans), ungulata (pachyderms and ruminants), and unguiculata (carnivora and the monkeys), the last being the highest in development; in the unguiculata the sense of touch is more highly developed through the greater number and mobility of the digits, and the smaller extent of covering with horny matter; in the carnivora he places the digiti-grades at the head, then the plantigrades, and lastly the pinnigrades; and among the digiti-grades the felidae are placed highest, whose retractile claws and long and narrow hind foot make them the most perfect and typical form of the carnivora.