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Temporal range: Late Cretaceous - Eocene
Palaeospinopa from Wyoming Eocene
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Clade: Eutheria
Order: Cimolesta
McKenna 1975

Cimolesta (from Greek, literally, "White Clay Thieves") is an extinct order of non-placental eutherian mammals.[1] 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.[1]

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.[2][3] 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.[4] [5] 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.


  1. ^ a b 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: |access-date= (help)
  2. ^ 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. PMID 11743200. doi:10.1126/science.1067179. 
  3. ^ 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. PMC 1654192Freely accessible. PMID 17101039. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-6-93. 
  4. ^ 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. PMC 1838468Freely accessible. PMID 17372202. doi:10.1073/pnas.0700441104. 
  5. ^ 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. PMC 2248600Freely accessible. PMID 17999766. doi:10.1186/1471-2148-7-224.