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Sparassodont



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The Sparassodonts were an order of carnivorous Metatherian mammals. They are all now extinct.

Sparassodonta
Temporal range: PalaeocenePleistocene
Thylacosmilus
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Infraclass: Metatheria
Order: Sparassodonta
Ameghino, 1894
The borhyaenid Lycopsis

The Sparassodonta is native to South America. They were once considered to be true marsupials, but are now thought to be a sister taxon to them.[1]

A number of these mammalian predators closely resemble placental predators that evolved separately in Eurasia. They were first described by Florentino Ameghino, from fossils found in the Santa Cruz beds of Patagonia.

Features

Members of the order Sparassodonta showed many similarities with placental carnivora, but they were not closely related. They are a very good example of convergent evolution.

For example, sparassodont molars were similar to the meat slicing teeth of modern cats. The canines were also lengthened, and in some cases, such as Thylacosmilus, resemble those of saber-toothed cats like Smilodon. Their body size varied, ranging from 80 cm (2 ft 8 in) long to the size of today's modern big cats.

Another family of large predators wrere the borhyaenids, which were more like wolves or dogs.

Families

Hathliacynidae
Borhyaenidae
Proborhyaenidae
Thylacosmilidae

References