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Biogeographical Considerations of the Marsupial-Placental Dichotomy

Initially I intended this paper to survey the recent information pertaining to the marsupial-placental dichotomy in mammalian evolution from the following points of view (a) the fossil record; (b) the paleogeography and ecological setting of the world at the presumed time of the phylogenetic separation; and (c) the comparisons gleaned from the "soft" biology (i.e. anatomy, physiology, genetics) of the living representatives of the two groups in hopes of improving earlier reconstructions of the common ancestral therian stock. However, it is impossible to do all these things thoroughly enough, within the space limitations of Annual Reviews, to avoid misim­ pressions resulting from gross oversimplification. It is also clear that, despite the enormous burst of geological, geophysical, and paleoecological information about the world of the Cretaceous, there exists in the literature rampant contradictions and misinterpretations on the subject, with many disciplines working to the near exclu­ sion of others. I believe the time is now right for an overall review of the early Cretaceous continental geography and its likely result on the evolution of land vertebrates, especially therian mammals. Only with a thorough grounding of this type will a later discussion of the biological aspects of the marsupial-placental dichotomy http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics Annual Reviews
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