An ecological comparison of marsupial and placental patterns of reproduction

  • Pamela Parker
Part of the Studies in Biology, Economy and Society book series


The traditional view of the relationship of marsupials is that of Huxley (1880), who held that Metatheria represent a stage of evolutionary development between the Prototheria (for example, platypus and spiny anteater) and the Eutheria (placental mammals). Huxley’s view implies that the living mammals thus represent three groups which evolved one from another, in the sequence Prototheria — Metatheria — Eutheria. It is this background against which features of marsupial anatomy and physiology may be interpreted as primitive in comparison with placental equivalents; thus several authors (for example, Lillegraven, 1969; Sharman, 1970) see certain aspects of marsupial reproductive biology as primitive, restrictive or inefficient when compared with similar features of placental reproduction.


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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1977

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  • Pamela Parker

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