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Nature. 2011 Aug 24;476(7361):442-5. doi: 10.1038/nature10291.

A Jurassic eutherian mammal and divergence of marsupials and placentals.

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Carnegie Museum of Natural History, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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