Coati are related to many types of extinct
animal, but they are most closely related to
animals like the Cyonausa, whose name in Greek
literally translates to "dog-coati."
In fact, it's thought that members of the
Procyonidae family, which includes coati,
raccoons, and cyonusa, originated from a common
ancestor of wolves and dogs. This ancestor became
more omnivorous, which means eating more plants
and less meat, and adapted to its environment,
resulting in the coati we see today.
They think coatis separated from raccoons 5 or
10 million years ago. Not much is known about
Coatis are in the genetic Order of
Carnivores, which are either dogs or cats.
Coatis are in the dog category.
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*Fossil coatis are rare, and the fossil
record and evolutionary history of this species is
poorly understood. A few incomplete fossils exist
from the United States and from South America
(Brazil and Bolivia), and none from Central
America. Most of the range of the species is or
was tropical forest, which is not conducive to
fossil formation. What little can be deduced from
existing fossils suggests that the species may
have diverged from a raccoon lineage approximately
4.5-9.5 million years ago. Laboratory studies that
compare the DNA and proteins of coatis and other
small carnivores confirm that the species is
genetically most closely related to raccoons
and ringtails. People often recognize this
relationship because of the similar mask-like
facial markings and ringed tails of these
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