There is much to be urged in favour of either view; and in adopting the former alternative, it must be borne in mind that the difference between monotremes and marsupials is vastly greater than that which separates the latter from placentals.
According to the latter, the early monotremes which became specialized into modern monotremes, gave rise to the ancestors of the modern marsupials; while the modern placentals are likewise an offshoot from the ancestral marsupial stcck.
Further, it is considered that too much weight has been assigned to the characters distinguishing monotremes from other mammals, foetal marsupials showing a monotreme type of coracoid, while it is probable that in the long run it will be found impossible to maintain the essential dissimilarity between the milk-glands of monotremes and other mammals.
Monotremes (2 species) and marsupials (4 families and 44 species) predominate, but are not abundant.
Although the present article does not discuss mammalian osteology in general (for which see Vertebrata), it is interesting to notice in this connexion that the primitive condition of the mammalian tympanum apparently consisted merely of a small and incomplete bony ring, with, at most, an imperfect ventral wall to the tympanic cavity, and that a close approximation to this original condition still persists in the monotremes, especially Ornithorhynchus.
How would you define monotremes? Add your definition here.