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A Mesozoic mammal of interest:
Zhe-Xi Luo, Chong-Xi Yuan, Qing-Jin Meng & Qiang Ji (2011)
Jurassic eutherian mammal and divergence of marsupials and placentals.
Nature 476: 442-445
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.