1. Laboratory of Conservation and Utilization of Bioresource, Yunnan University, Kunming 650091, China; 2. Laboratory of Molecular Evolution and Genome Diversity, Kunming Institute of Zoology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650023, China
Tracing evolutionary relationships among organisms and re-constructing species phylogenetic trees is vital in evolutionary biology. Species in the mammalian order of Carnivora rank top in the animal food chain. Most carnivores have received great interest in the conservation of wild animals and are also crucial model animals for the study of the molecular mechanisms of adaptive evolution. As an order bearing important evolutionarily significance and conservation value, the phylogeny of Carnivora has received special attention. In this article, we reviewed higher-level (interfamilial) phylogeny of carnivores based on previous cytological, morphological and molecular evidence and indicated the existing phylogenetic problems. This review is expected to guide future research of carnivore phylogeny, and also provide theoretical evidence for the use of this order as a model in the study of adaptive evolution.