The phylogenetic relationships of the extant feliform carnivores, Felidae (cats), Herpestidae (mongooses), Hyaenidae (hyenas and aardwolf), and Viverridae (civets, genets, and oyans), have been debated for a long time, with several proposed hypotheses for the relationships of these families (Flower, 1869; Gregory and Hellman, 1939, see Figure 3.1; Simpson, 1945; Hunt, 1987; Flynn et al., 1988; Wayne et al., 1989; Wozencraft, 1989a; Hunt and Tedford, 1993; Wyss and Flynn, 1993; Veron, 1994). The position of the Viverridae family is still unresolved (see e.g. Gaubert and Veron, 2003; Flynn et al., 2005; Koepfli et al., 2006; Holliday, 2007).
The mongooses were initially included within the Viverridae (Flower, 1869; Mivart, 1882) until Pocock (1916a, 1919) advocated for a family rank, to which he gave the name Mungotidae. Gregory and Hellman (1939) also placed them in a separate family, the Herpestidae Bonaparte, 1845. This separation was not followed by Simpson (1945) and several other authors (e.g. Albignac, 1973; Ewer, 1973; Petter, 1974; Rosevear, 1974; Coetzee, 1977; Kingdon, 1977; Payne et al., 1985; Stains, 1987; Taylor, 1988; Schreiber et al., 1989; Dargel, 1990; Skinner and Smithers, 1990). However, this split has been supported by further studies, based on morphology, chromosomes and molecular data (e.g. Wurster, 1969; Fredga, 1972; Radinsky, 1975; Bugge, 1978; Neff, 1983; Hunt, 1987; Wozencraft, 1984; Hunt and Tedford, 1993; Veron and Catzeflis, 1993; Wyss and Flynn, 1993; Veron, 1994, 1995; Flynn and Nedbal, 1998; Veron and Heard, 2000; Gaubert and Veron, 2003; Veron et al., 2004a; Flynn et al., 2005), and it is now generally accepted that the mongooses should be placed in a separate family, the Herpestidae (see Honacki et al., 1982; Wozencraft, 1989b, 1993, 2005; Gilchrist et al., 2009).