Evolutionary history of Carnivora (Mammalia, Laurasiatheria) inferred from mitochondrial genomes

Alexandre Hassanin, Géraldine Veron, Anne Ropiquet, Bettine Jansen van Vuuren, Alexis Lécu, Steven M. Goodman, Jibran Haider, Trung Thanh Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


The order Carnivora, which currently includes 296 species classified into 16 families, is distributed across all continents. The phylogeny and the timing of diversification of members of the order are still a matter of debate. Here, complete mitochondrial genomes were analysed to reconstruct the phylogenetic relationships and to estimate divergence times among species of Carnivora. We assembled 51 new mitogenomes from 13 families, and aligned them with available mitogenomes by selecting only those showing more than 1% of nucleotide divergence and excluding those suspected to be of low-quality or from misidentified taxa. Our final alignment included 220 taxa representing 2,442 mitogenomes. Our analyses led to a robust resolution of suprafamilial and intrafamilial relationships. We identified 21 fossil calibration points to estimate a molecular timescale for carnivorans. According to our divergence time estimates, crown carnivorans appeared during or just after the Early Eocene Climatic Optimum; all major groups of Caniformia (Cynoidea/Arctoidea; Ursidae; Musteloidea/ Pinnipedia) diverged from each other during the Eocene, while all major groups of Feliformia (Nandiniidae; Feloidea; Viverroidea) diversified more recently during the Oligocene, with a basal divergence of Nandinia at the Eocene/Oligocene transition; intrafamilial divergences occurred during the Miocene, except for the Procyonidae, as Potos separated from other genera during the Oligocene.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0240770
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number2 February
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Multidisciplinary


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