There are three distinct mammalian lineages; the monotremes, which lay eggs (e.g., platypus); marsupials, which give birth to embryo-like young (e.g., koala and kangaroos); and the eutherians, which include all the familiar “placental” mammals. For many years a hierarchical view of their relationships held scientific and popular sway that saw mammalian evolution as an ascending climb to placental status in the eutherians. Contemporary thought recognizes that both eutherians and marsupials are placental, but with different emphasis on the roles of the uterus and lactation in development (for review, see Tyndale-Biscoe and Renfree, 1987). Put very simply, the fetal stage of marsupial development is completed after leaving the uterus, while the young is suckled, usually in a pouch (see reviews in Tyndale-Biscoe and Janssens, 1988). It was the presence of this “second uterus” or delphis that gave the first marsupial described by Western science its generic name Didelphis.


Zona Pellucida Acrosome Reaction Sperm Head Cortical Granule Tammar Wallaby 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • John C. Rodger
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesThe University of NewcastleNewcastleAustralia

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