Mellivora enters the LRT in a clade of giant honey badgers

Finally we know more about an extinct placental clade
that no one else recognized as an extinct placental clade. Clade members in the LRT included Patriofelis, Sarkastodon and Kerberos (Fig. 1). Now a living member, the honey badger, Mellivora capensis (also Fig. 1), enters the LRT within this clade.

Marsupials or placentals?
The problem is: these three extinct hyper-carnivores have been traditionally considered creodonts and within that clade: hyaenodonts and oxyaenids.
In the large reptile tree (LRT, 1730+ taxa) creodonts are marsupials. Distinct from them, but convergent in many ways, Mellivora, Patriofelis, Sarkastodon and Kerberos nest as clade members within the placental clade, Carnivora. This newly recognized honey badger clade nests between hyper-carnirorous wolverines + short face bears and the stylinodontid + earless seal clade

The placental honey badger clade
dentally converges with the marsupial creodont clade. Don’t put your trust in teeth, as we learned earlier.

According to BioWeb.uwlax.edu
honey badgers are members of the weasel clade, Mustelidae, apart from other mustelids. In the LRT, all derived members of Carnivora, including cats, dogs, bears, seals and sea lions are all derived from the mink/weasel (genus Mustela).

Figure 1. The honey badger clade, Kerboros, Patriolfelis and Sarkastodon. The only living representative is Mellivora to scale.

Figure 1. The honey badger clade, Kerberos, Patriolfelis and Sarkastodon. The only living representative is Mellivora to scale.

Mellivora capensis (originally Viverra capensis Scherber 1777; Fig. 2) is the extant honey badger or ratel, traditionally considered close to weasels. This carnivore has few natural predators because of its thick skin and ferocious defensive abilities.

Figure 1. The honey badger (Mellivora capensis) skull.

Figure 2. The honey badger (Mellivora capensis) skull.

Imagine the unreasonable viciousness of a honey badger
expanded to the size of Sarkastodon (Fig. 1).

Figure 2. The honey badger (Mellivora capensis) skeleton.

Figure 3. The honey badger (Mellivora capensis) skeleton.

This 3:20 minute honey badger video on YouTube
went viral (95.5 million views) awhile back. Quite the character, now finally understood phylogenetically.

The LRT solves problems
others don’t even think about. Adding taxa is the solution to many phylogenetic problems.


References
Schreber, JCDv 1777. “Das Stinkbinksen”. Die Säugethiere in Abbildungen nach der Natur mit Beschreibungen. Erlangen: Wolfgang Walther. pp. 450–451.

wiki/Honey_badger
wiki/Oxyaenidae

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.