JOURNAL ARTICLE

A Jurassic eutherian mammal and divergence of marsupials and placentals

Zhe-Xi Luo, Chong-Xi Yuan, Qing-Jin Meng, Qiang Ji
Nature 2011 August 25, 476 (7361): 442-5
21866158
Placentals are the most abundant mammals that have diversified into every niche for vertebrates and dominated the world's terrestrial biotas in the Cenozoic. A critical event in mammalian history is the divergence of eutherians, the clade inclusive of all living placentals, from the metatherian-marsupial clade. Here we report the discovery of a new eutherian of 160 Myr from the Jurassic of China, which extends the first appearance of the eutherian-placental clade by about 35 Myr from the previous record, reducing and resolving a discrepancy between the previous fossil record and the molecular estimate for the placental-marsupial divergence. This mammal has scansorial forelimb features, and provides the ancestral condition for dental and other anatomical features of eutherians.

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