Temporal range: Middle Miocene to present
|Striped skunks (Mephitis mephitis)|
|Family:|| Mephitidae |
Mephitidae is a family of mammals comprising the skunks and stink badgers. They are noted for the great development of their anal scent glands, which they use to deter predators.
There are twelve extant species of mephitids in four genera: Conepatus (hog-nosed skunks, four species); Mephitis (the hooded and striped skunks, two species); Mydaus (stink badgers, two species); and Spilogale (spotted skunks, four species). The two stink badgers in the genus Mydaus inhabit Indonesia and the Philippines; the other members of the family inhabit the Americas, ranging from Canada to central South America. All other mephitids are extinct, known through fossils, including those from Eurasia.
Skunks were formerly classified as a subfamily of the Mustelidae (the weasel family); however, recent genetic evidence has caused skunks to be treated as a separate family.Similarly, the stink badgers had been classified with badgers, but genetic evidence shows they share a more recent common ancestor with skunks, so they are now included in the skunk family. In alphabetical order, the living species of Mephitidae are:
|Conepatus Gray, 1837|
|Mephitis É. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and Cuvier, 1795|
|Mydaus Cuvier, 1821|
|Spilogale Gray, 1865|
Carnivora is an order of placental mammals that have specialized in primarily eating flesh. Its members are formally referred to as carnivorans, though some species are omnivorous, like raccoons and bears, and quite a few species like pandas are specialized herbivores. The word 'carnivore' is derived from Latin carō "flesh" and vorāre "to devour", it refers to any meat-eating organism. The order Carnivora is the fifth largest order of mammals and one of the more successful members of the group; it comprises at least 279 species living on every major landmass and in a variety of habitats, ranging the cold polar regions to the hyper-arid region of the Sahara Desert to the open seas. They come in a huge array of different body plans in contrasting shapes and sizes. The smallest carnivoran is the least weasel with a body length of about 11 cm (4.3 in) and a weight of about 25 g (0.88 oz). The largest is the southern elephant seal, with adult males weighing up to 5,000 kg (11,000 lb) and measuring up to 6.7 m (22 ft). All species of carnivorans are descended from a group of mammals which were related to today's pangolins, having appeared in North America 6 million years after the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. These early ancestors of carnivorans would have resembled small weasel or genet-like mammals, occupying a nocturnal shift on the forest floor or in the trees, as other groups of mammals like the mesonychians and creodonts were occupying the top faunivorous niche. However, by the time Miocene epoch appeared, most if not all of the major lineages and families of carnivorans had diversified and took over this niche.
The Mustelidae are a family of carnivorous mammals, including weasels, badgers, otters, ferrets, martens, minks, and wolverines, among others. Mustelids are a diverse group and form the largest family in the order Carnivora, suborder Caniformia. Mustelidae comprises about 56–60 species across eight subfamilies.
Skunks are North and South American mammals in the family Mephitidae. While related to polecats and other members of the weasel family, skunks have as their closest Old World relatives the stink badgers. The animals are known for their ability to spray a liquid with a strong, unpleasant smell. Different species of skunk vary in appearance from black-and-white to brown, cream or ginger colored, but all have warning coloration.
Badgers are short-legged omnivores in the families Mustelidae, and Mephitidae. Badgers are a polyphyletic grouping, and are not a natural taxonomic grouping: badgers are united by their squat bodies, adapted for fossorial activity. All belong to the caniform suborder of carnivoran mammals. The 11 species of mustelid badgers are grouped in four subfamilies: Melinae, Helictidinae, Mellivorinae, and Taxideinae ; the respective genera are Arctonyx, Meles, Melogale, Mellivora and Taxidea. Badgers include the most basal mustelids; the American badger is the most basal of all, followed successively by the ratel and Melinae; the estimated split dates are about 17.8, 15.5 and 14.8 million years ago, respectively. The two species of Asiatic stink badgers of the genus Mydaus were formerly included within Melinae, but more recent genetic evidence indicates these are actually members of the skunk family (Mephitidae).
Caniformia is a suborder within the order Carnivora. They typically possess a long snout and nonretractile claws and include carnivorans such as dogs, bears, wolves, foxes, raccoons, badgers, seals and mustelids. The Pinnipedia are also assigned to this group. The center of diversification for Caniformia is North America and northern Eurasia. This contrasts with the feliforms, the center of diversification of which was in Africa and southern Asia.
Ailuridae is a family in the mammal order Carnivora. The family consists of the red panda and its extinct relatives.
Meles is a genus of badgers containing three living species, the Japanese badger, Asian badger, and European badger. In an older categorization, they were seen as a single species with three subspecies. There are also several extinct members of the genus. They are members of the subfamily Melinae of the weasel family, Mustelidae.
The American badger is a North American badger, similar in appearance to the European badger although not closely related. It is found in the western and central United States, northern Mexico, and south-central Canada to certain areas of southwestern British Columbia.
The striped polecat - also called the African polecat, zoril, zorille, zorilla, Cape polecat, and African skunk - is a member of the family Mustelidae that resembles a skunk. The name "zorilla" comes from the word "zorro", which in Spanish means "fox". It lives predominantly in dry and arid climates, such as the savannahs and open country of Central, Southern, and sub-Saharan Africa, excluding the Congo basin and the more coastal areas of West Africa.
The Sunda stink badger, also called the Javan stink badger, teledu, Malay stink badger, Malay badger, Indonesian stink badger and Sunda skunk, is a mammal native to Indonesia and Malaysia. Despite the common name, stink badgers are not closely related to true badgers, and are, instead, Old World relatives of the skunks.
The hog-nosed skunks belong to the genus Conepatus and are members of the family Mephitidae (skunks). They are native to the Americas. They have white backs and tails and black underparts.
The striped skunk is a skunk of the genus Mephitis that occurs across most of North America, including southern Canada, the United States, and northern Mexico. It is currently listed as least concern by the IUCN on account of its wide range and ability to adapt to human-modified environments.
The Palawan stink badger, or pantot, is a carnivoran of the western Philippines named for its resemblance to badgers, its powerful smell, and the largest island to which it is native, Palawan. Like all stink badgers, the Palawan stink badger was once thought to share a more recent common ancestor with badgers than with skunks. Recent genetic evidence, however, has led to their re-classification as one of the Mephitidae, the skunk family of mammals. It is the size of a large skunk or small badger, and uses its badger-like body to dig by night for invertebrates in open areas near patches of brush. While it lacks the whitish dorsal patches typical of its closest relatives, predators and hunters generally avoid the powerful noxious chemicals it can spray from the specialized anal glands characteristic of mephitids.
The pygmy spotted skunk is a species of mammal in the family Mephitidae. It is endemic to Mexico.
Stink badgers (Mydaus) are a genus of the skunk family of carnivorans, the Mephitidae. They resemble the better-known members of the family Mustelidae also termed 'badgers'. There are only two extant species – the Palawan stink badger, and the Sunda stink badger or teledu. They live only on the western islands of the Greater Sunda Islands: Sumatra, Java, Borneo in Indonesia and on the Philippine island of Palawan; as well as many other smaller islands in the region.
Musteloidea is a superfamily of carnivoran mammals united by shared characters of the skull and teeth. Musteloids share a common ancestor with the pinnipeds, the group which includes seals.
Promephitis is an extinct genus of skunk, of which several species have been described from the Miocene and early Pliocene of Europe and Asia.
Palaeomephitis steinheimensis is an extinct species of skunk of the Miocene epoch in Europe. It is the earliest known species of the family Mephitidae.