Carnivora is a major order of placental mammals known formally as carnivorans. They should not be confused for carnivores, which are any meat-eating organism. In reality, carnivorans are the most diverse in size of any mammalian order, ranging from the smallest known weasel, the Least Weasel (Mustela nivalis) at 0.88oz (25g) and 4.3in (11cm) to the Polar Bear (Ursus maritimus), which weighs up to 2,200lbs (1,000kg) and grows to 12ft in length, to the Southern Elephant Seal (Mirounga leonina), at 11,000lbs (5,000kg) and 23ft (6.9m) in length.

Some carnivores, such as cats and pinnipeds, depend entirely on meat for their nutrition. Others, such as raccoons and bears, depending on the local habitat, are more omnivorous: the giant panda is almost exclusively a herbivore, but will take fish, eggs and insects, while the polar bear subsists mainly on seals. Carnivorans have teeth and claws adapted for catching and eating other animals. Many hunt in packs and are social animals, giving them an advantage over larger prey.

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