Comparing the families Canidae and Felidae, which have the shorter evolutionary distance to the order Rodentia? Less sophisticatedly put, are cats or dogs more related to rodents?

  • $\begingroup$ I just wanted to reiterate what Remi.b said that neither cats nor dogs are more closely related to rodents: they are exactly the same phylogenetic distance apart $\endgroup$ – C_Z_ Apr 26 '15 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ I guess this might depend on the definition of "evolutionary distance". If you count something like "number of generations since nearest common anchestor", I guess the family with longer (average) generation length would win. $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Apr 26 '15 at 19:14

Online Ressources

Here is exactly the kind of question where tolweb.org is your best friend. tolweb.org is one of the most updated phylogenetic tree online. It also contains tons of reference, very useful to understand controversy over some nodes. onezoom.org is another online source that offer you to seek through the tree of life. Also, onezoom shows only the tetrapods (incl. mammals, birds, amphibians, lizards, snakes, turtles). However, onezoom has an awesome display and is a great tool for displaying diversity (they use the total length (in years) of all branches within a clade) within a clade and the threaten index (IUCN (red list) categories).

Dogs, Cats and Rodents

You will find the placental mammals here (tolweb). As you can see, the cats and dogs are both carnivora, while a rodent is a Rodentia (as you said). This means that cats and dogs have a more recent common ancestor than does either the cat or the dog with any rodent. Stated differently again, cats are not closer or further to rodents than dogs are. There is exactly the same distance between cats and rodents than between dogs and rodents.

One onezoom, the carnivorans is presented as a sister group to the ungulates. I have no idea what representation is the most correct but in any case, cats and dogs are carnivorans and share a common ancestor that is more recent than the common ancestor shared by carnivorans and rodents. So again, there is exactly the same distance between cats and rodents than between dogs and rodents.

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  • $\begingroup$ »Please note that this tree has not been updated since 1995« ... is this really the most updated one? $\endgroup$ – Paŭlo Ebermann Apr 26 '15 at 19:12
  • $\begingroup$ The tree of the main branches of the placental mammals hasn't been updated since 1995. Seems pretty old indeed. In general, tolweb is a often updated, great source of information on phylogenetic relationship. If you seek for more updated and more accurate representation I think there is no better option than seeking directly through the literature. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Apr 26 '15 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ Another very good source of knowledge on the subject is onezoom.org (I edited my answer to add oneZoom) but I can't tell if onezoom is more updated. Also, onezoom cannot support polytomy and will therefore not represent doubts. If I am not mistaken onezoom also don't offer list of references. However, onezoom has an awesome display! $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Apr 26 '15 at 19:23
  • $\begingroup$ Wrong.. You can actually have polytomies in onezoom. Actually looking a bit more at onezoom, I realize that it actually really is a very cool tool. It also offers great visualization of threaten statues! $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Apr 26 '15 at 19:55

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