Temporal range: 22.6–0 Ma Early Miocene to Holocene
From top left to bottom right: raccoon (Procyon), ringtail (Bassariscus), South American coati (Nasua), northern olingo (Bassaricyon), kinkajou (Potos)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Carnivora
Superfamily: Musteloidea
Family: Procyonidae
Gray, 1825
Type genus
Storr, 1780

Procyonidae is a New World family of the order Carnivora.[1] It comprises the raccoons, ringtails, cacomistles, coatis, kinkajous, olingos, and olinguitos. Procyonids inhabit a wide range of environments and are generally omnivorous.


Procyonids are relatively small animals, with generally slender bodies and long tails, though the common raccoon tends to be bulky.

Because of their general build, the Procyonidae are often popularly viewed as smaller cousins of the bear family. This is apparent in their German names: a raccoon is called a Waschbär (washing bear, as it "washes" its food before eating), a coati is a Nasenbär (nose-bear), while a kinkajou is a Honigbär (honey-bear). Dutch follows suit, calling the animals wasbeer, neusbeer and rolstaartbeer respectively. However, it is now believed that procyonids are more closely related to mustelids than to bears.[2]

Due to their omnivorous diet, procyonids have lost some of the adaptations for flesh-eating found in their carnivorous relatives. While they do have carnassial teeth, these are poorly developed in most species, especially the raccoons. Apart from the kinkajou, procyonids have the dental formula:


for a total of 40 teeth. The kinkajou has one fewer premolar in each row:


for a total of 36 teeth.

They are mostly solitary animals; mothers generally raise litters of up to four young on their own.[3]


Procyonid fossils once believed to belong to the genus Bassariscus, which includes the modern ringtail and cacomistle, have been identified from the Miocene epoch, around 20 million years (Ma) ago. It has been suggested that early procyonids were an offshoot of the canids that adapted to a more omnivorous diet.[3] The recent evolution of procyonids has been centered on Central America (where their diversity is greatest);[4] they invaded the formerly isolated South America as part of the Great American Interchange,[5] beginning about 7.3 Ma ago in the late Miocene, with the appearance there of Cyonasua.[6]

Genetic studies have shown that kinkajous are a sister group to all other extant procyonids; they split off about 22.6 Ma ago.[7] The clades leading to coatis and olingos on one hand, and to ringtails and raccoons on the other, separated about 17.7 Ma ago.[4] The divergence between olingos and coatis is estimated to have occurred about 10.2 Ma ago,[4] at about the same time that ringtails and raccoons parted ways.[4][5]


There has been considerable historical uncertainty over the correct classification of several members. The red panda was previously classified in this family, but it is now classified in its own family, the Ailuridae, based on molecular biology studies. The status of the various olingos was disputed: some regarded them all as subspecies of Bassaricyon gabbii before DNA sequence data demonstrated otherwise.[4]

The traditional classification scheme shown below on the left predates the recent revolution in our understanding of procyonid phylogeny based on genetic sequence analysis. This outdated classification groups kinkajous and olingos together on the basis of similarities in morphology that are now known to be an example of parallel evolution; similarly, coatis are shown as being most closely related to raccoons, when in fact they are closest to olingos. Below right is a cladogram showing the results of the recent molecular studies as of 2013.[4][5][7] Genus Nasuella was not included in these studies, but in a separate study was found to nest within Nasua.[8]


Bassaricyon (olingos and olinguito)

Nasua and Nasuella (coatis)

Procyon (raccoons)

Bassariscus (ringtail and cacomistle)

Potos (kinkajou)


Several recent molecular studies have resolved the phylogenetic relationships between the procyonids, as illustrated in the cladogram below.[5][4][8][9]


Potos flavus (kinkajou)


Procyon cancrivorus (crab eating raccoon)

Procyon lotor (common raccoon) Wild animals of North America, intimate studies of big and little creatures of the mammal kingdom (Page 410) (white background).jpg


Bassariscus sumichrasti (cacomistle)

Bassariscus astutus (ringtail)


Bassaricyon medius (western lowland olingo) ZooKeys - Bassaricyon medius (white background).jpg

Bassaricyon alleni (eastern lowland olingo) ZooKeys - Bassaricyon alleni (white background).jpg

Bassaricyon gabbii (northern olingo) ZooKeys - Bassaricyon gabbii (white background).jpg

Bassaricyon neblina (olinguito) ZooKeys - Bassaricyon neblina (white background).jpg


Nasua nasua (ring-tailed coati)

Nasua narica (white-nosed coati)


Nasuella olivacea (western mountain coati)

Nasuella meridensis (eastern mountain coati)


Extinct taxa[edit]

Below is a list of extinct taxa (many of which are fossil genera and species) complied in alphabetical order under their respective subfamilies.

  • Procyonidae J.E. Gray, 1825
    • Broilianinae Dehm, 1950
      • Broiliana Dehm, 1950
        • B. dehmi Beaumont & Mein, 1973
        • B. nobilis Dehm, 1950
      • Stromeriella Dehm, 1950
        • S. depressa Morlo, 1996
        • S. franconica Dehm, 1950
    • Potosinae Trouessart, 1904
      • Parapotos J.A. Baskin, 2003
        • P. tedfordi J.A. Baskin, 2003
    • Procyoninae J.E. Gray, 1825
      • Arctonasua J.A. Baskin, 1982
        • A. eurybates J.A. Baskin, 1982
        • A. fricki J.A. Baskin, 1982
        • A. floridana J.A. Baskin, 1982
        • A. gracilis J.A. Baskin, 1982
        • A. minima J.A. Baskin, 1982
      • Bassaricyonoides J.A. Baskin & Morea, 2003
        • B. stewartae J.A. Baskin & Morea, 2003
        • B. phyllismillerae J.A. Baskin & Morea, 2003
      • Bassariscus Coues, 1887
        • B. antiquus Matthew & Cook, 1909
        • B. casei Hibbard, 1952
        • B. minimus J.A. Baskin, 2004
        • B. ogallalae Hibbard, 1933
        • B. parvus Hall, 1927
      • Chapalmalania Ameghino, 1908
        • C. altaefrontis Kraglievich & Olazábal, 1959
        • C. ortognatha Ameghino, 1908
      • Cyonasua Ameghino, 1885 [=Amphinasua Moreno & Mercerat, 1891; Brachynasua Ameghino & Kraglievich 1925; Pachynasua Ameghino, 1904]
        • C. argentina Ameghino 1885
        • C. argentinus (Burmeister, 1891)
        • C. brevirostris (Moreno & Mercerat, 1891) [=Amphinasua brevirostris Moreno & Mercerat, 1891]
        • C. clausa (Ameghino, 1904) [=Pachynasua clausa Ameghino, 1904]
        • C. groeberi Kraglievich & Reig, 1954 [=Amphinasua groeberi Cabrera, 1936]
        • C. longirostris (Rovereto, 1914)
        • C. lutaria (Cabrera, 1936) [=Amphinasua lutaria Cabrera, 1936]
        • C. meranii (Ameghino & Kraglievich 1925) [=Brachynasua meranii Ameghino & Kraglievich 1925]
        • C. pascuali Linares, 1981 [=Amphinasua pascuali Linares, 1981]
        • C. robusta (Rovereto, 1914)
      • Edaphocyon Wilson , 1960
        • E. lautus J.A. Baskin, 1982
        • E. palmeri J.A. Baskin & Morea, 2003
        • E. pointblankensis Wilson , 1960
      • Nasua Storr, 1780
        • N. pronarica Dalquest, 1978
        • N. mastodonta Emmert & Short, 2018
        • N. nicaeensis Holl, 1829
      • Parahyaenodon Ameghino, 1904
        • P. argentinus Ameghino, 1904
      • Paranasua J.A. Baskin, 1982
        • P. biradica J.A. Baskin, 1982
      • Probassariscus Merriam, 1911
        • P. matthewi Merriam, 1911
      • Procyon Storr, 1780
        • P. gipsoni Emmert & Short, 2018
        • P. megalokolos Emmert & Short, 2018
        • P. rexroadensis Hibbard, 1941
      • Protoprocyon Linares, 1981 [=Lichnocyon J.A. Baskin, 1982]
        • P. savagei Linares, 1981 [=Lichnocyon savagei J.A. Baskin, 1982]
      • Tetraprothomo Ameghino, 1908
        • T. argentinus Ameghino, 1908


  1. ^ Wozencraft, W. C. (2005). "Order Carnivora". In Wilson, D. E.; Reeder, D. M. (eds.). Mammal Species of the World: A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference (3rd ed.). Johns Hopkins University Press. pp. 624–628. ISBN 978-0-8018-8221-0. OCLC 62265494.
  2. ^ Flynn, John; Finarelli, John; Zehr, Sarah; Hsu, Johnny; Nedbal, Michael (2005). "Molecular Phylogeny of the Carnivora (Mammalia): Assessing the Impact of Increased Sampling on Resolving Enigmatic Relationships" (PDF). Systematic Biology. 54 (2): 317–337. doi:10.1080/10635150590923326. ISSN 1063-5157. PMID 16012099.
  3. ^ a b Russell, James (1984). Macdonald, D. (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: Facts on File. pp. 98–99. ISBN 978-0-87196-871-5.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Helgen, K. M.; Pinto, M.; Kays, R.; Helgen, L.; Tsuchiya, M.; Quinn, A.; Wilson, D.; Maldonado, J. (15 August 2013). "Taxonomic revision of the olingos (Bassaricyon), with description of a new species, the Olinguito". ZooKeys (324): 1–83. doi:10.3897/zookeys.324.5827. PMC 3760134. PMID 24003317.
  5. ^ a b c d K.-P. Koepfli; M. E. Gompper; E. Eizirik; C.-C. Ho; L. Linden; J. E. Maldonado; R. K. Wayne (2007). "Phylogeny of the Procyonidae (Mammalia: Carvnivora): Molecules, morphology and the Great American Interchange" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 43 (3): 1076–1095. CiteSeerX doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2006.10.003. ISSN 1055-7903. PMID 17174109.
  6. ^ Woodburne, M. O. (14 July 2010). "The Great American Biotic Interchange: Dispersals, Tectonics, Climate, Sea Level and Holding Pens". Journal of Mammalian Evolution. 17 (4): 245–264. doi:10.1007/s10914-010-9144-8. PMC 2987556. PMID 21125025.
  7. ^ a b Eizirik, E.; Murphy, W. J.; Koepfli, K.-P.; Johnson, W. E.; Dragoo, J. W.; Wayne, R. K.; O’Brien, S. J. (4 February 2010). "Pattern and timing of diversification of the mammalian order Carnivora inferred from multiple nuclear gene sequences". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 56 (1): 49–63. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2010.01.033. PMC 7034395. PMID 20138220.
  8. ^ a b Helgen, K. M.; Kays, R.; Helgen, L. E.; Tsuchiya-Jerep, M. T. N.; Pinto, C. M.; Koepfli, K. P.; Eizirik, E.; Maldonado, J. E. (August 2009). "Taxonomic boundaries and geographic distributions revealed by an integrative systematic overview of the mountain coatis, Nasuella (Carnivora: Procyonidae)" (PDF). Small Carnivore Conservation. 41: 65–74. Retrieved 20 August 2013.
  9. ^ Law, Chris J.; Slater, Graham J.; Mehta, Rita S. (1 January 2018). "Lineage Diversity and Size Disparity in Musteloidea: Testing Patterns of Adaptive Radiation Using Molecular and Fossil-Based Methods". Systematic Biology. 67 (1): 127–144. doi:10.1093/sysbio/syx047. ISSN 1063-5157. PMID 28472434.

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