Theria

Theria
Temporal range: Late Jurassic – recent, 161–0 Ma
Common vampire batTasmanian devilFox squirrelAardvarkHumpback whaleGiant armadilloVirginia opossumHumanTree pangolinColugoStar nosed molePlains zebraEastern grey kangarooNorthern elephant sealAfrican elephantElkGiant pandaBlack and rufous elephant shrew
Scientific classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Mammalia
Clade: Tribosphenida
Subclass: Theria
Parker & Haswell, 1897
Subgroups

Theria (/ˈθɪəriə/ or /ˈθɛriə/; from Ancient Greek θηρίον (thēríon) 'wild beast') is a subclass of mammals amongst the Theriiformes. Theria includes the eutherians (including the placental mammals) and the metatherians (including the marsupials) but excludes the egg-laying monotremes and various extinct mammals evolving prior to the common ancestor of placentals and marsupials.

Characteristics

Therian mammals give birth (see viviparity) to live young without a shelled egg. This is possible thanks to key proteins called syncytins which allow exchanges between the mother and its offspring through a placenta, even rudimental ones such as in marsupials. Genetic studies have suggested a viral origin of syncytins through the endogenization process.

The marsupials and the placental mammals evolved from a common therian ancestor that gave live birth by suppressing the mother's immune system. While the marsupials continued to give birth to an underdeveloped fetus after a short pregnancy, the ancestors of placental mammals gradually evolved a prolonged pregnancy.

Therian mammals no longer have the coracoid bone, unlike their cousins, monotremes.

Pinnae (external ears) are also a distinctive trait that is a therian exclusivity, though some therians, such as the earless seals, have lost them secondarily.

Evolution

The earliest known therian mammal fossil is Juramaia, from China's Late Jurassic (Oxfordian stage). However, the age estimates of the site are disputed based on the geological complexity and the geographically widespread nature of the Tiaojishan Formations. Further, King and Beck in 2020 argue for an Early Cretaceous age for Juramaia sinensis, in line with similar early mammaliaformes.

A recent review of the Southern Hemisphere Mesozoic mammal fossil record has argued that triosphenic mammals arose in the Southern Hemisphere during the Early Jurassic, around 50 million years prior to the clade's earliest undisputed appearance in the Northern Hemisphere.

Molecular data suggests that therians may have originated even earlier, during the Early Jurassic. Therian mammals began to diversify 10-20 million years before the dinosaur extinction.

Taxonomy

The rank of "Theria" may vary depending on the classification system used. The textbook classification system by Vaughan et al. (2000) gives the following:

Class Mammalia

  • Subclass Theria: live-bearing mammals

In the above system Theria is a subclass. Alternatively, in the system proposed by McKenna and Bell (1997) it is ranked as a supercohort under the subclass Theriiformes:

Class Mammalia

  • Subclass Theriiformes: live-bearing mammals and their prehistoric relatives

Another classification proposed by Luo et al. (2002) does not assign any rank to the taxonomic levels, but uses a purely cladistic system instead.

See also


This page was last updated at 2024-02-04 04:43 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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