News of the WeekMAMMALIAN EVOLUTION

Placentals' Family Tree Drawn and Quartered

Science  14 Dec 2001:
Vol. 294, Issue 5550, pp. 2266-2268
DOI: 10.1126/science.294.5550.2266b

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Summary

On page 2348, researchers report using a nearly 240-year-old statistical technique to sort out the evolutionary history of the broad class of mammals that give birth to live, fully developed young. The researchers place placental mammals in four major groups, proposing that these groups arose in large part because of the breakup of the giant landmasses that predated modern continents, and that placental mammals in what is now Africa have the most ancient ancestors. Those conclusions are likely to prove controversial, however.