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Heaviest carnivore

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1249679.  Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:17 am Reply with quote

I once learned that the polar bear was the heaviest land carnivore since the Southern Elephant seal spends too much time in the sea to count.

It got me wondering (and moving on from land-based animals) whether a fish-eater would count as a predator/carnivore and if so, is a blue whale not the largest carnivore if it lives off krill, which is itself an animal?

Have I got my definitions confused? Why is a whale not a carnivore?

1249680.  Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:17 am Reply with quote

Bonus confusion: Sperm whales count, according to many sources including this one. Is there a discrimination against the size of prey?

1249684.  Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:41 am Reply with quote

Blue whales are indeed carnivores, but they are not land-based and - to some ways of thinking - they are not predators.

Sperm whales hunt squid, while blue whales just swim along with their mouths open and eat whatever floats in. Whether that counts as "hunting" is a matter of definition, but whoever wrote the piece linked clearly doesn't think it does.

1249688.  Mon Sep 18, 2017 10:49 am Reply with quote

I anticipated the difference between carnivore an predator but it annoys me there's no clear distinction. Is a web-building spider a predator? There must be a spectrum of how much effort an animal goes through to catch its prey

1254716.  Wed Oct 11, 2017 11:43 am Reply with quote

The word carnivore has two distinct meanings:
a) something that eats the flesh of animals - this would include dogs cats, bears, komodo dragons, tarantulas and venus flytraps to name but a few.
ii) members of the order Carnivora (sometimes called carnivorans). These are all placental mammals and are divided into two groups: Feliformia (cats, civets, hyenas, mongooses etc.) and Caniformia (dogs, bears, seals and walruses, red pandas, skunks and weasels etc.)

Predation is not the only behaviour exhibited by carnivorans (many prefer scavenging), and is exhibited by many non-carnivorans (anteaters, for example, despite being obligate predators of ants and termites (meaning that it's their only source of food), are not carnivorans, nor are cetaceans, despite being meat-eaters (counting fish, squid and krill as meat)).


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