Temporal range: Late Cretaceous - Eocene
|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 would have been regarded as 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.
Some experts had placed the pangolins within Cimolesta, though the current consensus is that the pangolins should be placed within their own order, Pholidota, as a sister taxon to Carnivora within Ferae. 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. However, more thorough studies suggest that the ptolemaiids were more probably afrotheres related to aardvarks, tenrecs and golden moles.  If one ignores the ptolemaiids as afrotherians, then the last, unequivocal cimolestids, the pantolestids Gobiopithecus and Kiinkerishella, died out during the Late Eocene or early Oligocene.
- Rook, D.L.; Hunter, J.P. (2013). "Rooting Around the Eutherian Family Tree: the Origin and Relations of the Taeniodonta". Journal of Mammalian Evolution. 21: 1–17. doi:10.1007/s10914-013-9230-9. Retrieved May 2013. Check date values in:
- Murphy, Willian J.; O'Brien, SJ; et al. (2001-12-14). "Resolution of the Early Placental Mammal Radiation Using Bayesian Phylogenetics". Science. 294 (5550): 2348–2351. Bibcode:2001Sci...294.2348M. doi:10.1126/science.1067179. PMID 11743200.
- Beck, Robin MD; Bininda-Emonds, Olaf RP; Cardillo, Marcel; Liu, Fu-Guo; Purvis, Andy (2006). "A higher-level MRP supertree of placental mammals". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 6 (1): 93. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-6-93. PMC . PMID 17101039.
- Cote S, Werdelin L, Seiffert ER, Barry JC (March 2007). "Additional material of the enigmatic Early Miocene mammal Kelba and its relationship to the order Ptolemaiida". Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 104 (13): 5510–5. Bibcode:2007PNAS..104.5510C. doi:10.1073/pnas.0700441104. PMC . PMID 17372202.
- Seiffert, Erik R (2007). "A new estimate of afrotherian phylogeny based on simultaneous analysis of genomic, morphological, and fossil evidence". BMC Evolutionary Biology. 7 (1): 224. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-224. PMC . PMID 17999766.
- 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. Bibcode:1995PNAS...92.3269S. doi:10.1073/pnas.92.8.3269. PMC . PMID 11607526.
|Wikispecies has information related to: Cimolesta|