Diversity of the

American Marsupials


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Introduction.

Order: Didelphimorphia.

Order: Paucituberculata

This order consists of just 6 extant shrew-like species in 3 genera, found only in the Andes mountain range of South America. These species are thus known as 'shrew-opossums'. This order diverged early in marsupial history, and in the past was a diverse group.

Paucituberculata (27K)
Long Nosed Shrew Opossum, Rhyncholestes raphanurus

The diet of this order is mostly carnivorous and insectivorous, the main foods being insects, earthworms and small invertebrates. They fill similar ecological niches of the North American insectivores which migrated south during the Great Panaman Interchange, leading to a net loss of species throughout the Oligocene.

Members of this order are all the size of a small rat, 9 to 14cm long, with thin limbs, a long narrow snout and a thin hairy tail. They have forward pointing lower front teeth, similar to the Australian order Diprotodontia. Like didelphimorphians, paucituberculatans are mostly nocturnal. They have poor eyesight and use their hearing and long sensitive whiskers to detect and hunt their prey.

Order: Microbiotheria.

Order: Sparassodonta.

Order: Groeberida.

Order: Argyrolagida.