Eupleridae is a family of carnivorans endemic to Madagascar and comprising 10 known living species in seven genera, commonly known as euplerids, or Malagasy mongooses. The best known species is the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), in the subfamily Euplerinae. All species of Euplerinae were formerly classified as viverrids, while all species in the subfamily Galidiinae were classified as herpestids.
Recent molecular studies indicate that the 10 living species of Madagascar carnivorans evolved from one ancestor that is thought to have rafted over from mainland Africa 18-24 million years ago. This makes Malagasy carnivorans a clade. They are closely allied with the true herpestid mongooses, their closest living relatives. The fossa and the Malagasy civet (Fossa fossana) are each evolutionarily quite distinct from each other and from the rest of the clade.
|Eupleridae subfamily ranges|
Historically, the relationships of the Madagascar carnivorans have been contentious, but molecular evidence suggests that they form a single clade, now recognized as the family Eupleridae. The hyena family, Hyaenidae, is a sister taxon of the euplerid and herpestid clade, and when grouped together with the viverrids and felids, as well as some smaller groups, forms the feliform (cat-like carnivores) clade.
The evolutionary divergence between the herpestids and the euplerids dates back to the Oligocene. At that time, feliforms shared many similarities, particularly between the cats and the viverrids. Palaeoprionodon (within the superfamily Aeluroidea), found in Europe and Asia from the late Eocene or early Oligocene, looked similar to the modern fossa, while Proailurus, an extinct form of cat, exhibited many viverrid-like characteristics. Despite these similarities in the fossil record, the modern Malagasy carnivores are distinctly different, with the Euplerinae and Galidiinae subfamilies bearing similarities with civets and mongooses, respectively. Species in Euplerinae (including the fossa, falanouc, and Malagasy civet) have auditory regions similar to those of viverrids, while those in Galidiinae have auditory regions similar to those of herpestids. Based on this trait, Robert M. Hunt Jr. proposed in 1996 that Madagascar was colonized twice, once by viverrids and once by herpestids. However, the genetic studies by Yoder and colleagues in 2003 suggested that a single colonization event occurred by a primitive herpestid ancestor, which was quickly followed by adaptive radiation. The common ancestor arrived from Africa, probably by rafting, during the late Oligocene or early Miocene (24–18 Mya), though Philippe Gaubert and Veron estimated a divergence date of 19.4 Mya (16.5–22.7 Mya).
|Phylogeny of Malagasy carnivorans (Eupleridae)|
|Phylogeny of Eupleridae within Feliformia|
The brown-tailed mongoose, Malagasy brown-tailed mongoose, or salano (Salanoia concolor) is a species of mammal in the family Eupleridae. It is endemic to Madagascar. Its natural habitat is subtropical or tropical dry forests. It is threatened by habitat loss.Carnivora
Carnivora (; from Latin carō (stem carn-) "flesh" and vorāre "to devour") is a diverse scrotiferan order that includes over 280 species of placental mammals. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, whereas the word "carnivore" (often popularly applied to members of this group) can refer to any meat-eating organism. Carnivorans are the most diverse in size of any mammalian order, ranging from the least weasel (Mustela nivalis), at as little as 25 g (0.88 oz) and 11 cm (4.3 in), to the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), which can weigh up to 1,000 kg (2,200 lb), to the southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), whose adult males weigh up to 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) and measure up to 6.7 m (22 ft) in length.
Carnivorans have teeth and claws adapted for catching and eating other animals. Many hunt in packs and are social animals, giving them an advantage over larger prey. Some carnivorans, such as cats and pinnipeds, depend entirely on meat for their nutrition. Others, such as raccoons and bears, are more omnivorous, depending on the habitat. The giant panda is largely a herbivore, but also feeds on fish, eggs and insects. The polar bear subsists mainly on seals.
Carnivorans are split into two suborders: Feliformia ("catlike") and Caniformia ("doglike").Cryptoprocta spelea
Cryptoprocta spelea, also known as the giant fossa, is an extinct species of carnivore from Madagascar in the family Eupleridae, which is most closely related to the mongooses and includes all Malagasy carnivorans. It was first described in 1902, and in 1935 was recognized as a separate species from its closest relative, the living fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox). C. spelea is larger than the fossa, but otherwise similar. The two have not always been accepted as distinct species. When and how the larger form became extinct is unknown; there is some anecdotal evidence, including reports of very large fossas, that there is more than one surviving species.
The species is known from subfossil bones found in a variety of caves in northern, western, southern, and central Madagascar. In some sites, it occurs with remains of C. ferox, but there is no evidence that the two lived in the same places at the same time. Living species of comparably sized, related carnivores in other regions manage to coexist, suggesting that the same may have happened with both C. spelea and C. ferox. C. spelea would have been able to prey on larger animals than its smaller relative could have, including the recently extinct giant lemurs.Eastern falanouc
The eastern falanouc (Eupleres goudotii) is a rare mongoose-like mammal in the carnivoran family Eupleridae endemic to Madagascar .It is classified alongside the western falanouc, Eupleres major, recognized only in 2010, in the genus Eupleres. Falanoucs have several peculiarities. They have no anal or perineal glands (unlike their closest relative, the fanaloka), nonretractile claws, and a unique dentition: the canines and premolars are backwards-curving and flat. This is thought to be related to their prey, mostly invertebrates, such as worms, slugs, snails, and larvae.
It lives primarily in the lowland rainforests of eastern Madagascar, while E. major is found in northwest Madagascar. It is solitary and territorial, but whether nocturnal or diurnal is unknown. It is small (about 50 centimetres long with a 24-centimetre-long tail) and shy (clawing, not biting, in self-defence). It most closely resembles the mongooses with its long snout and low body, though its colouration is plain and brown (most mongooses have colouring schemes such as striping, banding, or other variations on the hands and feet).
Its life cycle displays periods of fat buildup during April and May, before the dry months of June and July. It has a brief courting period and weaning period, the young being weaned before the next mating season. Its reproductive cycle is fast. The offspring (one per litter) are born in burrows with opened eyes and can move with the mother through dense foliage at only two days old. In nine weeks, the already well-developed young are on solid food and shortly thereafter they leave their mothers. Though it is fast in gaining mobility (so as to follow its mother on forages), it grows at a slower rate than comparatively-sized carnivorans.
"Falanoucs are threatened by habitat loss, humans, dogs and an introduced competitor, the small Indian civet (Viverricula indica)."Eupleres
Eupleres is a genus of two species of mongoose-like euplerid mammal native to Madagascar. They are primarily terrestrial and consume mainly invertebrates.Eupleres major
Eupleres major, the western falanouc, is a rare mongoose-like mammal endemic to Madagascar and classified in the carnivoran family Eupleridae.
Recognized only in 2010, it is in the genus Eupleres.It is found in humid rainforest and marshes in northwest Madagascar and also in the dry deciduous forest in the west.Euplerinae
Euplerinae, more commonly known as malagasy civets, is a subfamily of carnivorans that includes four species restricted to Madagascar. Together with the subfamily Galidiinae, which also only occurs on Madagascar, it forms the family Eupleridae. Members of this subfamily, which include the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox), falanoucs (Eupleres goudotii and Eupleres major) and Malagasy civet (Fossa fossana), were placed in families like Felidae and Viverridae before genetic data indicated their consanguinity with other Madagascar carnivorans. Within the subfamily, the falanouc and Malagasy civet are more closely related to each other than to the fossa.Feliformia
Feliformia (also Feloidea) is a suborder within the order Carnivora consisting of "cat-like" carnivorans, including cats (large and small), hyenas, mongooses, civets, and related taxa. Feliformia stands in contrast to the other suborder of Carnivora, Caniformia ("dog-like" carnivorans).
The separation of the Carnivora into the broad groups of feliforms and caniforms is widely accepted, as is the definition of Feliformia and Caniformia as suborders (sometimes superfamilies). The classification of feliforms as part of the Feliformia suborder or under separate groupings continues to evolve.
Systematic classifications dealing with only extant taxa include all feliforms into the Feliformia suborder, though variations exist in the definition and grouping of families and genera. Indeed, molecular phylogenies suggest that all extant Feliformia are monophyletic.The extant families as reflected in the taxa chart at right and the discussions in this article reflect the most contemporary and well-supported views (as at the time of writing this article).
Systematic classifications dealing with both extant and extinct taxa vary more widely. Some separate the feliforms (extant and extinct) as: Aeluroidea (superfamily) and Feliformia (suborder). Others include all feliforms (extant, extinct and "possible ancestors") into the Feliformia suborder. Some studies suggest this inclusion of "possible ancestors" into Feliformia (or even Carnivora) may be spurious. The extinct (†) families as reflected in the taxa chart are the least problematic in terms of their relationship with extant feliforms (with the most problematic being Nimravidae).Fossa (animal)
The fossa ( or ; Malagasy pronunciation: [ˈfusə̥]; Cryptoprocta ferox) is a cat-like, carnivorous mammal endemic to Madagascar. It is a member of the Eupleridae, a family of carnivorans closely related to the mongoose family (Herpestidae). Its classification has been controversial because its physical traits resemble those of cats, yet other traits suggest a close relationship with viverrids (most civets and their relatives). Its classification, along with that of the other Malagasy carnivores, influenced hypotheses about how many times mammalian carnivores have colonized Madagascar. With genetic studies demonstrating that the fossa and all other Malagasy carnivores are most closely related to each other (forming a clade, recognized as the family Eupleridae), carnivorans are now thought to have colonized the island once, around 18 to 20 million years ago.
The fossa is the largest mammalian carnivore on the island of Madagascar and has been compared to a small cougar. Adults have a head-body length of 70–80 cm (28–31 in) and weigh between 5.5 and 8.6 kg (12 and 19 lb), with the males larger than the females. It has semi-retractable claws (meaning it can extend but not retract its claws fully) and flexible ankles that allow it to climb up and down trees head-first, and also support jumping from tree to tree. The fossa is unique within its family for the shape of its genitalia, which share traits with those of cats and hyenas.
The species is widespread, although population densities are usually low. It is found solely in forested habitat, and actively hunts both by day and night. Over 50% of its diet consists of lemurs, the endemic primates found on the island; tenrecs, rodents, lizards, birds, and other animals are also documented as prey. Mating usually occurs in trees on horizontal limbs and can last for several hours. Litters range from one to six pups, which are born blind and toothless (altricial). Infants wean after 4.5 months and are independent after a year. Sexual maturity occurs around three to four years of age, and life expectancy in captivity is 20 years. The fossa is listed as a vulnerable species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is generally feared by the Malagasy people and is often protected by their fady (taboo). The greatest threat to the species is habitat destruction.Galidiinae
Galidiinae is a subfamily of carnivorans that is restricted to Madagascar and includes six species classified into four genera. Together with the three other species of indigenous Malagasy carnivorans, including the fossa, they are currently classified in the family Eupleridae within the suborder Feliformia. Galidiinae are the smallest of the Malagasy carnivorans, generally weighing about 600 to 900 g. They are agile, short-legged animals with long, bushy tails.In some of these characters, they resemble the mongooses (family Herpestidae) of continental Africa and southern Eurasia, with which they were classified until 2006, and accordingly they are said to be "mongoose-like" or even described as "Malagasy mongooses".Grandidier's mongoose
Grandidier's mongoose (Galidictis grandidieri), also known as the giant-striped mongoose or Grandidier's vontsira, is a small carnivoran that lives only in a very small area of southwestern Madagascar, in areas of spiny forest vegetation. It is pale brown or grayish coloured, with eight wide, dark stripes on its back and sides. Grandidier's mongoose is larger than the related broad-striped Malagasy mongoose, G. fasciata, and its stripes are not as wide. The species is named after Alfred Grandidier.
This species has been called one of the rarest carnivorans in the world. With a few exceptions, the majority of records of G. grandidieri come from a narrow zone at the western edge of the Mahafaly Plateau in the Parc National de Tsimanampetsotsa, making it the Madagascan carnivore with the smallest range.
Nocturnal and crepuscular, this species lives in pairs which produce one offspring a year, in the summer. They hunt primarily by searching through ground litter and in rock crevices. The diet of Grandidier's mongoose varies markedly between the dry and wet seasons. Whereas food consists mainly of invertebrates throughout the year, small vertebrates are the most important food by biomass, comprising 58% during the dry season and 80% during the wet season. Grandidier's mongoose weighs 1.1 to 1.3 lb (500 to 600 g).The species is sympatric with two other carnivores, the fossa (Cryptoprocta ferox) and the introduced Indian civet (Viverricula indica). However, there seems to be virtually no range or dietary overlap between these animals and Grandidier's mongoose. From sub-fossil evidence, it is clear that the region underwent drastic climatic change during the last 3000–2000 years. It is presumed that the distribution of this mongoose was notably broader and the proportion of prey types different in earlier times than today. Grandidier's mongoose must have adapted to dryer conditions, which have resulted in its very limited distribution and the exploitation of notably small prey.The animals can be vocal, with a cooing mew, and are described as sociable and playful.Herpestoidea
Herpestoidea is a superfamily of mammalia carnivores which includes mongooses, carnivores of Madagascar and the hyenas.
Herpestoidea, with the exception of the hyenas, have a cylindrical and elongated body, which allows them to catch their prey and get into holes. Herpestoideas are feliforms and experts in hunting animals bigger than them.They live through Eurasia, Africa and the island of Madagascar.Lutrogale
Lutrogale is a genus of otters, with only one extant species—the smooth-coated otter.Mongoose
Mongoose is the popular English name for 29 of the 34 species in the 14 genera of the family Herpestidae, which are small feliform carnivorans native to southern Eurasia and mainland Africa. The other five species (all African) in the family are the four kusimanses in the genus Crossarchus, and the species Suricata suricatta, commonly called meerkat in English.
Six species in the family Eupleridae are endemic to the island of Madagascar. These are called "mongoose" and were originally classified as a genus within the family Herpestidae, but genetic evidence has since shown that they are more closely related to other Madagascar carnivorans in the family Eupleridae; they have been classified in the subfamily Galidiinae within Eupleridae since 2006.
Herpestidae is placed within the suborder Feliformia, together with the cat, hyena, and Viverridae families.Narrow-striped mongoose
The narrow-striped mongoose (Mungotictis decemlineata) is a member of the family Eupleridae, subfamily Galidiinae and endemic to Madagascar. It inhabits the Madagascar dry deciduous forests of western and southwestern Madagascar, where it lives from sea level to about 125 m (410 ft) between the Tsiribihina and Mangoky rivers. In Malagasy it is called bokiboky (pronounced "Boo-ky Boo-ky").Salanoia
Salanoia is a genus of euplerid carnivoran with two currently described species found in Madagascar. They are mongoose-like, which is reflected in the older versions of their English names, for example brown-tailed mongoose which is now called brown-tailed vontsira. The name Salanoia is derived from one of the vernacular names for Salanoia concolor: Salano.In 2010, the two described members of the genus were referred to by the common name vontsira in announcements of the discovery of Salanoia durrelli. Vontsira is a Malagasy vernacular name that seems to apply to a few local species of local mongoose-like carnivores in the related genera Salanoia, Galidia, and GalidictisSalanoia durrelli
Salanoia durrelli, also known as Durrell's vontsira, is a Madagascan mammal in the family Eupleridae of the order Carnivora. It is most closely related to the brown-tailed mongoose (Salanoia concolor), with which it forms the genus Salanoia. The two are genetically similar, but morphologically distinct, leading scientists to recognize them as separate species. After an individual was observed in 2004, the animal became known to science and S. durrelli was described as a new species in 2010. It is found only in the Lac Alaotra area.
A small, reddish-brown carnivore, Salanoia durrelli is characterized by broad feet with prominent pads, reddish-buff underparts, and broad, robust teeth, among other differences from the brown-tailed mongoose. In the only two weighed specimens, body mass was 600 and 675 g (21.2 and 23.8 oz). It is a marsh-dwelling animal that may feed on crustaceans and mollusks. The Lac Alaotra area is a threatened ecosystem, and S. durrelli may also be endangered by competition with introduced species.Viverridae
Viverridae is a family of small to medium-sized mammals, the viverrids (), comprising 15 genera, which are subdivided into 38 species. This family was named and first described by John Edward Gray in 1821. Members of this family are commonly called civets or genets. Viverrids are found in South and Southeast Asia, across the Wallace Line, all over Africa, and into southern Europe. Their occurrence in Sulawesi and in some of the adjoining islands shows them to be ancient inhabitants of the Old World tropics.
Extant Carnivora species