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sinodelphys szalayi, sinodelphys
Sinodelphys is an extinct mammal from the Early Cretaceous To date, it is the oldest metatherian fossil known,[1] estimated to be 125 million years old It was discovered and described in 2003 in rocks of the Yixian Formation in Liaoning Province, China, by a team of scientists including Zhe-Xi Luo and John Wible


  • 1 Fossil record
  • 2 Evolution of marsupials
  • 3 See also
  • 4 References

Fossil record

Specimen at the French National Museum of Natural History, Paris

Only one fossil specimen is known, a slab and counterslab given catalog number CAGS00-IG03 It is in the collection of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences

Sinodelphys szalayi grew only 15 cm 59 in long and possibly weighed about 30 g 105 oz Its fossilized skeleton is surrounded by impressions of fur and soft tissue, thanks to the exceptional sediment that preserves such details Luo et al 2003 inferred from the foot structure of Sinodelphys that it was a scansorial tree-dweller, like its non-marsupial contemporary Eomaia and modern opossums such as Didelphis Sinodelphys probably hunted worms and insects Most Mesozoic metatherians have been found in North America and Asia Most lived during the Late Cretaceous between 90 and 66 million years ago[2]

Evolution of marsupials

Sinodelphys szalayi, living in China around 125 million years ago, is the earliest known metatherian[2][3][4] This makes it almost contemporary to the eutherian Acristatherium, which has been found in the same area[5]


 Sinodelphys szalayi

 Cenozoic metatherian


 Juramaia sinensis

 Montanalestes keeblerorum

 Murtoilestes abramovi

 Acristatherium yanensis

 Prokennalestes trofimovi

 Cenozoic placentalia

However, Bi et al 2018 reinterpreted Sinodelphys as an early member of Eutheria[6]

See also

  • Eomaia
  • Evolution of mammals


  1. ^ O'Leary, MA; Bloch, JI; Flynn, JJ; Gaudin, TJ; Giallombardo, A; Giannini, NP; Goldberg, SL; Kraatz, BP; Luo, Z-X; Meng, J; Ni, X; Novacek, MJ; Perini, FA; Randall, ZS; Rougier, GW; Sargis, EJ; Silcox, MT; Simmons, NB; Spaulding, M; Velazco, PM; Weksler, M; Wible, JR; Cirranello, AL 2013 "The Placental Mammal Ancestor and the Post–K-Pg Radiation of Placentals" Science 339 6120: 662–667 doi:101126/science1229237 PMID 23393258 
  2. ^ a b Luo, Zhe-Xi; Ji, Qiang; Wible, John R; Yuan, Chong-Xi 2003-12-12 "An early Cretaceous tribosphenic mammal and metatherian evolution" Science 302 5652: 1934–1940 doi:101126/science1090718 PMID 14671295 Retrieved 2010-12-27 
  3. ^ Rincon, P Oldest Marsupial Ancestor Found, BBC, December 2003
  4. ^ Pickrell, J Oldest Marsupial Fossil Found in China, National Geographic, December 2003
  5. ^ Yaoming Hu, Jin Meng, Chuankui Li & Yuanqing Wang 2010 Xing Xu; Zhe-Xi Luo; Jia-Yu Rong, eds "New basal eutherian mammal from the Early Cretaceous Jehol biota, Liaoning, China" PDF Proceedings of the Royal Society B 277 1679: 229–236 doi:101098/rspb20090203 PMC 2842663  PMID 19419990 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  6. ^ Shundong Bi; Xiaoting Zheng; Xiaoli Wang; Natalie E Cignetti; Shiling Yang; John R Wible 2018 "An Early Cretaceous eutherian and the placental–marsupial dichotomy" Nature 558 7710: 390–395 doi:101038/s41586-018-0210-3 PMID 29899454 

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