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Temporal range: Late Cretaceous - Miocene
|Palaeospinopa from Wyoming eocene|
Cimolesta (from Greek, literally, "White Clay Thieves") is an extinct order of non-placental eutherian mammals. Cimolestans had a wide variety of body shapes, dentition and lifestyles, though the majority of them were small to medium sized general mammals that bore superficial resemblances to rodents, weasels or opossums.
Several groups have previously been suggested to have descended from the Cimolesta: the Pholidota (which could be regarded a suborder of Cimolesta), the Creodonta, and the Carnivora. The origins of the enigmatic Dinocerata have been suggested to lie within the Cimolesta as well. However, recent studies have revealed that cimolestans are more likely to be basal, non-placental eutherians, with no living descendants.
In the past, a few experts had placed the pangolins within Cimolesta, though the current consensus is that the pangolins should be placed within their own order, Pholidota. Some have also placed the enigmatic family Ptolemaiidae within Cimolesta, also due to similarities between dental and skull anatomies with those of Pantolesta. If the ptolemaiids were indeed cimolestids, then Cimolesta would have ranged from the Late Cretaceous to the early Miocene, when the last ptolemaiid, Kelba, disappeared in Eastern Africa.
- Rook, D.L.; Hunter, J.P. (2013). "Rooting Around the Eutherian Family Tree: the Origin and Relations of the Taeniodonta". Journal of Mammalian Evolution: 1–17. doi:10.1007/s10914-013-9230-9. Retrieved May 2013.
- McKenna, MC (1975). "Toward a phylogenetic classification of the Mammalia". In Luckett, WP; Szalay, FS. Phylogeny of the primates: a multidisciplinary approach (Proceedings of WennerGren Symposium no. 61, Burg Wartenstein, Austria, July 6–14, 1974. New York: Plenum. pp. 21–46. doi:10.1007/978-1-4684-2166-8_2. ISBN 978-1-4684-2168-2.
- McKenna, M.C.; Bell, S.K. (1997). Classification of mammals above the species level. New York: Columbia University Press. ISBN 978-0-231-11013-6.
- Rose, KD (2006). The beginning of the age of mammals. Baltimore: JHU Press. ISBN 0801884721.
- Simons, EL; Bown, TM (April 11, 1995). "Ptolemaiida, a new order of Mammalia--with description of the cranium of Ptolemaia grangeri". PNAS 92 (8): 3269–73. doi:10.1073/pnas.92.8.3269. PMC 42147. PMID 11607526.
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