The relationships of mammals



A cladistic analysis generates alternative hypotheses regarding both the origin and the interrelationships of mammals to those most widely accepted at the present time. It is proposed that the tritylodontids are more closely related to mammals than is Probainognathus; that the non-therian mammals do not constitute a monophyletic group; and that the monotremes are related to the modern therians, the ear ossicles among other characters having evolved only once. The multituberculates may be related to the monotremes.

It is argued that the current views are variously based on an overemphasis of superficial dental similarities, misinterpretation of the structure of the mammalianbraincaseand too readyacceptance of parallel evolution amongstthe groups concerned. The hypotheses proposed here are apparently much more parsimonious.