Are Monotremes Primitive and Marsupials Inferior?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter deals with some of the many prejudices surrounding the value of marsupials and monotremes as research organisms. It shows that most published research on mammalian biology actually only deals with placentals, and explains the historical background to the lack of scientific interest in monotremes and marsupials. Montremes are a complex mosaic of derived, ancestral and convergent traits, defying the perception that monotremes are a "primitive" representative of an ancestral mammal. The section on marsupials discusses a series of specific claims made about the evolutionary accomplishment of marsupials; in particular, the efficiency of marsupial reproduction, metabolism and development, the impact of development of morphological evolution, and the ability of marsupials to compete for niche space with placentals. In all cases, intriguing differences between monotremes, marsupials, and placentals serve to highlight the broad spectrum of mammalian evolution, rather than indicate a succession of evolutionary stages with differing evolutionary "merit."

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMarsupials and Monotremes
Subtitle of host publicationNature's Enigmatic Mammals
EditorsAthol Klieve, Lindsay Hogan, Stephen Johnston, Peter Murray
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781634834872
ISBN (Print)9781634829731, 1634829735
Publication statusPublished - 2015
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameAnimal Science, Issues and Research


  • basal metabolic rate
  • developmental constraint
  • invasive species
  • reproduction
  • oviparity
  • primitive


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