Temporal range: Lower Cretaceous
|Sinodelphys szalayi fossil displayed in Hong Kong Science Museum.|
To date, it is the oldest metatherian fossil known, estimated to be 125 million years old. This makes it almost contemporary to the earliest placental fossils, which have been found in the same area.
Sinodelphys szalayi grew only 15 cm (5.9 in) long and possibly weighed about 30 g (1.05 oz).
From its foot structure it is thought that Sinodelphys was a tree-dweller, like its non-marsupial contemporary Eomaia and modern opossums such as Didelphis. Sinodelphys probably hunted worms and insects.
- informally known as the Chinese opossum
- Ji, Q., et al. The earliest known eutherian mammal, Nature, 416, pp. 816-822, April 2002.
- Luo, Zhe-Xi; Ji, Qiang; Wible, John R.; Yuan, Chong-Xi (2003-12-12). "An early Cretaceous tribosphenic mammal and metatherian evolution". Science 302 (5652): 1934–1940. doi:10.1126/science.1090718. PMID 14671295. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/302/5652/1934.abstract. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
- Rincon P. Oldest marsupial ancestor found, BBC, December 2003.
- Pickrell, J. Oldest marsupial fossil found in China, National Geographic, December 2003.
- Klinger M.A. Sinodelphys szalayi, Carnegie Mellon Natural History, 2003.