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Temporal range: Late Paleocene (Itaboraian)-Recent
~58.7–0 Ma
Caenolestes sangay
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Clade: Marsupialiformes
Infraclass: Marsupialia
Order: Paucituberculata
Ameghino, 1894
  • See text
7 extant species
  • Paucituberculiformes Kinman 1994
  • Asyndactylia Thomas 1895

Paucituberculata /ˌpɔːsɪtjˌbɜːrkjˈltə/ is an order of South American marsupials. Although currently represented only by the seven living species of shrew opossums, this order was formerly much more diverse, with more than 60 extinct species named from the fossil record, particularly from the late Oligocene to early Miocene epochs.[1][2] The earliest paucituberculatans date to the late Paleocene (Itaboraian South American land mammal age).[3] The group went through a pronounced decline in the middle Miocene epoch, which resulted in the extinction of all families of this order except for the living shrew opossums (Caenolestidae). Extinct families of Paucituberculatans include Pichipilidae, Palaeothentidae, and Abderitidae.[2]


It is one of two clades of Ameridelphia, a paraphyletic group; genetic studies have shown these animals to be a sister group to Australidelphia (i.e., Didelphimorphia branched off first).[4][5]

The Paucituberculata were once considered to be closely related to South American polydolopimorph metatherians, however phylogenetic analyses have found this is not true.[3]


The order is subdivided into:[6][7]

Phylogeny of Paucituberculata[8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Abello, María A. (2013). "Analysis of dental homologies and phylogeny of Paucituberculata (Mammalia: Marsupialia)". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society. 109 (2): 441–465. doi:10.1111/bij.12048. hdl:11336/13571.
  2. ^ a b c Engelman, Russell K.; Anaya, Federico; Croft, Darin A. (2017). "New palaeothentid marsupials (Paucituberculata) from the middle Miocene of Quebrada Honda, Bolivia and their implications for the palaeoecology, decline, and extinction of the Palaeothentoidea". Journal of Systematic Palaeontology. 15 (10): 787–820. doi:10.1080/14772019.2016.1240112. S2CID 88758358.
  3. ^ a b c d Goin, Francisco J.; Candela, Adriana M.; Abello, M. Alejandra; Oliveira, Edison V. (2009). "Earliest South American paucituberculatans and their significance in the understanding of 'pseudodiprotodont' marsupial radiations". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 155 (4): 867–884. doi:10.1111/j.1096-3642.2008.00471.x.
  4. ^ Schiewe, Jessie (2010-07-28). "Australia's marsupials originated in what is now South America, study says". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 1 August 2010. Retrieved 2010-08-01.
  5. ^ Nilsson, M. A.; Churakov, G.; Sommer, M.; Van Tran, N.; Zemann, A.; Brosius, J.; Schmitz, J. (2010-07-27). "Tracking Marsupial Evolution Using Archaic Genomic Retroposon Insertions". PLOS Biology. 8 (7): e1000436. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000436. PMC 2910653. PMID 20668664.
  6. ^ Abello, 2007, p.410
  7. ^ Paucituberculata at
  8. ^ Alejandra Abello, María; Martin, Gabriel M.; Cardoso, Yamila (2021). "Review of the extinct 'shrew-opossums' (Marsupialia: Caenolestidae), with descriptions of two new genera and three new species from the Early Miocene of southern South America". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 193 (2): 464–498. doi:10.1093/zoolinnean/zlaa165.
  9. ^ Abello, María Alejandra; Toledo, Nestor; Ortiz-Jaureguizar, Edgardo (2018). "Evolution of South American Paucituberculata (Metatheria: Marsupialia): adaptive radiation and climate changes at the Eocene- Oligocene boundary" (PDF). Historical Biology. 32 (4): 476–493. doi:10.1080/08912963.2018.1502286.
  10. ^ Palaeothentoidea at
  11. ^ Hondathenthes at
  12. ^ Paleothentidae at
  13. ^ Rincón, Ascanio D.; Shockey, Bruce J.; Anaya, Federico; Solórzano, André (2015). "Palaeothentid Marsupials of the Salla Beds of Bolivia (Late Oligocene): Two New Species and Insights into the Post-Eocene Radiation of Palaeothentoids". Journal of Mammalian Evolution. 22 (4): 455–471. doi:10.1007/s10914-015-9295-8. S2CID 2940122.