Family Viverridae

This family of small carnivores contains the modern civets, genets and mongooses. The viverrids are among the oldest of the carnivores, with an ancestry dating back as far as the Middle Paleocene, about 60 million years ago. They are also among the most adaptable and least specialized of all carnivores.

Viverrids are mostly long-bodied, short-legged animals. Many of them are opportunistic omnivores, eating a great variety of food — from earthworms, mollusks, crabs, fish, birds and reptiles (including snakes in the case of mongooses), to eggs, carrion and fruit.

Despite the wide range of the group today — they are found throughout much of the Old World tropics (viverrids are the only group of carnivores to have colonized Madagascar) — the fossil record of the viverrids is poor.

name: Kanuites time: Miocene locality: Africa (Kenya) size: 3 ft/90 cm long

The viverrids have changed remarkably little during their long evolution, and Kanuites doutless appeared very similar to the existing genets (Qenetta). It had a long tail and perhaps retractable claws like those of a cat. It was probably omnivorous, feeding on fruit, insects, small mammals and reptiles, and may have lived in trees as well as on the ground.

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