Family Procyonidae

The procyonids, including the modern raccoons, pandas and coatis, first appeared in the Early Oligocene, about 35 million years ago. They had the typical meat-shearing blades on their premolar and molar teeth, the characteristic feature of the true carnivores. But this design has been lost in modern members, and their premolars and molars have reverted to a purely grinding and crushing function.

This dentition suits the omnivorous diet of most modern procyonids. However, the diet of the giant panda, Ailuro-poda melanoleura, consists almost exclusively of bamboo shoots, and it is probable that this animal is more closely related to the bears than to the raccoons.

name: Plesictis time: Early Oligocene to Early

Miocene locality: Asia (China), Europe (France) and North America (USA) size: 2 ft 5 in/75 cm long This tree-living hunter had big eyes, perhaps for nocturnal hunting, and a long tail for balance. It was similar to the modern cacomistle (Bassaricus sumich-rasti), and may have been its direct ancestor. It probably led the same life-

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