Diversity of the

American Marsupials

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Order: Didelphimorphia.

Order: Paucituberculata.

Order: Microbiotheria.

Order: Sparassodonta

This order underwent an early and extensive adaptive radiation before the divergence of the order Didelphimorphia. The extinction of the Sparassodonta is believed to be due to competition with Didelphimorphia and large carnivorous birds of the time.

The diet of all known members of this order was obviously carnivorous, and many known species show examples of convergent evolution with other mammalian species. For example, Thylacosmilidae shows similarities to the placental sabre tooth tiger, whilst Borhyaenidae shows similarities to the Australian marsupial family Thylacinidae. There are also some bear-like forms, which may have been the largest known marsupial carnivores An extinct order, Sparassodonta consists of 6 families and were found exclusively in South America. Fossils of organisms from this order were the first extinct marsupials described.

Sparassodonta (15K)

Order: Groeberida.

Order: Argyrolagida.