And approximates to the placental type.
- Characterized by the woolly scaleleaves and carpels; the latter terminate in a thick laminar expansion of triangular form, bearing two placental cushions, on which the ovules are situated.
These projections and ridges may be homologous with the seminiferous scale of the pines, firs, cedars, &c. The simplest interpretation of the cone of the Abietineae is that which regards it as a flower consisting of an axis bearing several open carpels, which in the adult cone may be very small or large and prominent, the scale bearing the ovules being regarded as a placental outgrowth from the flat and open carpel.
With the exception of the Cetacea, most of the Edentata, and the Sirenia, in which the teeth, when present, have been specialized in a retrograde or aberrant manner, the placental mammals as a whole have a dentition conforming more or less closely to the foregoing type.
That is to say, he believes that, with the exception of the duckbill and the echidna, the mammalian class as a whole can lay claim to descent from small arboreal forms. This view is, of course, almost entirely based upon palaeontological considerations; and these, in the author's opinion, admit of the conclusion that all modern placental and marsupial mammals are descended from a common ancestral stock, of which the members were small in bodily size.
The Insectivora are certainly the lowest group of existing placental mammals, and exhibit many signs of affinity with marsupials; they may even be a more generalized group than the latter.
The marsupials also attain their maximum development in Australia (" Notogaea " of the distributionists), extending, however, as far west as Celebes and the Moluccas, although in these islands they form an insignificant minority among an extensive placental fauna, being represented only by the cuscuses (Phalanger), a group unknown in either Papua or Australia.
According to one theory, these rudimentary teeth, together with the one pair of functional teeth in each jaw that has vertical successors, represent the milk-teeth of placental mammals.
The comparatively few indigenous placental mammals, besides the dingo or wild dog - which, however, may have come from the islands north of this continent - are of the bat tribe and of the rodent or rat tribe.
UNGULATA, the name of an order of placental mammals in which the terminal joints of the toes are usually encased in solid hoofs or covered with broad hoof-like nails, while the molar (and not unfrequently some or all of the premolar) teeth have broad tuberculated crowns adapted for crushing vegetable substances.
Thus Huxley, with true prophetic instinct, found that the sum of primitive characters of all the higher placental mammals points to a stem form of a generalized insectivore type, a prophecy which has been fully confirmed by the latest research.
Successive discoveries have revealed certain grand centres, such as (1) the marsupial radiation of Australia, (2) the littleknown Cretaceous radiation of placental mammals in the northern hemisphere, which was probably connected in part with the peopling of South America, (3) the Tertiary placental radiation in the northern hemisphere, partly connected with Africa, (4) the main Tertiary radiation in South America.
RODENTIA, or Glires, an order of placental mammals characterized by the peculiar form and structure of their front or incisor teeth, which are reduced to a single functional chisellike pair in each jaw, specially adapted for gnawing, and growing throughout the entire life of their owners.
Rodents may be characterized as terrestrial, or in some cases arboreal or aquatic, placental mammals of small or medium size, with a milk and a permanent series of teeth, plantigrade or partially plantigrade, and generally five-toed, clawed (rarely nailed or semi hoofed) feet, clavicles or collar-bones (occasionally imperfect or rudimentary), no canine teeth, and a single pair of lower incisors, opposed by only one similar and functional pair in the upper jaw.
The main point of interest connected with the dingo relates to its origin; that is to say, whether it is a member of the indigenous Australian fauna (among which it is the only large placental mammal), or whether it has been introduced into the country by man.
It is urged that the imperfect placenta of the bandicoots instead of being vestigial, may be an instance of parallelism, and that in marsupials generally the allantois failed to form a placental connexion.
The zoology of Australia and Tasmania presents a very conspicuous point of difference from that of other regions of the globe, in the prevalence of non-placental mammalia.
We pass on to the other curious order of non-placental mammals, that of the Monotremata, so called from the structure of their organs of evacuation with a single orifice, as in birds.