A Jurassic eutherian mammal and divergence of marsupials and placentals

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


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.

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • China
  • Female
  • Fossils*
  • History, Ancient
  • Mammals / anatomy & histology*
  • Mammals / classification*
  • Mammals / embryology
  • Mammals / physiology
  • Mandible / anatomy & histology
  • Marsupialia / anatomy & histology*
  • Marsupialia / classification*
  • Marsupialia / physiology
  • Molar / anatomy & histology
  • Phylogeny*
  • Placenta / physiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Time Factors