The marsupials also attain their maximum development in Australia (" Notogaea " of the distributionists), extending, however, as far west as Celebes and the Moluccas, although in these islands they form an insignificant minority among an extensive placental fauna, being represented only by the cuscuses (Phalanger), a group unknown in either Papua or Australia.
With the exception of the Cetacea, most of the Edentata, and the Sirenia, in which the teeth, when present, have been specialized in a retrograde or aberrant manner, the placental mammals as a whole have a dentition conforming more or less closely to the foregoing type.
That is to say, he believes that, with the exception of the duckbill and the echidna, the mammalian class as a whole can lay claim to descent from small arboreal forms. This view is, of course, almost entirely based upon palaeontological considerations; and these, in the author's opinion, admit of the conclusion that all modern placental and marsupial mammals are descended from a common ancestral stock, of which the members were small in bodily size.
The Insectivora are certainly the lowest group of existing placental mammals, and exhibit many signs of affinity with marsupials; they may even be a more generalized group than the latter.
- Characterized by the woolly scaleleaves and carpels; the latter terminate in a thick laminar expansion of triangular form, bearing two placental cushions, on which the ovules are situated.