Neither phylogenomic nor palaeontological data support a Palaeogene origin of placental mammals.
20131003 - ?
MetadataShow full item record
O'Leary et al. (O'Leary et al. 2013 Science 339, 662-667. (doi:10.1126/science.1229237)) performed a fossil-only dating analysis of mammals, concluding that the ancestor of placentals post-dated the Cretaceous-Palaeogene boundary, contradicting previous palaeontological and molecular studies that placed the ancestor in the Cretaceous. They incorrectly used fossil ages as species divergence times for crown groups, while in fact the former should merely form minimum-age bounds for the latter. Statistical analyses of the fossil record have shown that crown groups are significantly older than the oldest ingroup fossil, so that fossils do not directly reflect the true ages of clades. Here, we analyse a 20 million nucleotide genome-scale alignment in conjunction with a probabilistic interpretation of the fossil ages from O'Leary et al. Our combined analysis of fossils and molecules demonstrates that Placentalia originated in the Cretaceous.