How Many Marsupial Species Live in Europe, Asia, or Africa, Besides Native Australia, and How did They Evolve?

No marsupial species are native to Europe, Asia, or Africa.

kangaroo with joey in pouch

It was once thought modern placental mammals evolved from marsupials, but recent fossil evidence disputes this assumption.

The earliest known marsupial is Sinodelphys szalayi, which lived in China around 125 million years ago.

On many continents placental mammals were much more successful and no marsupials survived.

However, fossils of a marsupial species called Sinodelphys or “Chinese opossum”, an extinct mammal from the Early Cretaceous, were recently found in China.

It is currently the oldest marsupial fossil known, estimated to be 125 million years old, and is the only one of its kind found.

It was discovered in 2003 in the Yixian Formation in Liaoning Province, China, by a team of scientists.

Of the 260 known marsupial species, just a couple live in the Americas, and the rest live in Australia and the Australasian islands that surround it.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

1 thought on “How Many Marsupial Species Live in Europe, Asia, or Africa, Besides Native Australia, and How did They Evolve?”

  1. Actually, there are cuscus (possums) native to several islands in Sulawesi province in Indonesia. Also, the varied New Guinean marsupial fauna doesn’t stop at the Irian Jaya border, so they are in Indonesia as well, politically speaking. I suspect (without further research) that these or other marsupials are to be found on other Indonesian islands south of Wallace’s line, just as there are megapodes and other Australian-type fauna.

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