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CARNEIRO, LEONARDO M.. A new protodidelphid (Mammalia, Marsupialia, Didelphimorphia) from the Itaboraí Basin and its implications for the evolution of the Protodidelphidae. An. Acad. Bras. Ciênc. [online]. 2019, vol.91, suppl.2, e20180440.  Epub Oct 18, 2018. ISSN 1678-2690.

The Protodidelphidae was a group of marsupials that lived in Gondwana from the early to middle Eocene. Among South American faunas, the Itaboraí Basin calls attention by the presence of four genera and six species. Herein is described Bergqvistherium primigenia gen. et sp. nov., a new protodidelphid from the Itaboraí Basin - lower Eocene. This taxon differs from other protodidelphids in the smaller size, developed entocristid, less brachyo-bunoid adaptations, and entoconid more mesial than the hypoconid. These characters are recovered as plesiomorphies of the Protodidelphidae, supporting Bergqvistherium as an early-divergent lineage of this group. The Protodidelphidae fauna of the Itaboraí Basin is represented by less specialized “basal” taxa, such as Bergqvistherium and Periprotodidelphis; and more specialized apical taxa, such as Guggenheimia, Protodidelphis, and Carolocoutoia. This result indicates that the diversification of apical protodidelphids probably was a result of a relatively short-time event, occurring during the early Eocene. This evolutionary event can be directly correlated to the increase in the temperatures and the extension of tropical forests resulted by the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum during the Itaboraiense time span. The study supported a Late Cretaceous origin for the Protodidelphidae, which agrees with molecular studies for the Didelphimorphia.

Keywords : Metatheria; Paleogene; systematics; teeth.

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