US Geological Survey


Date of this Version



Published in Memoir (The Paleontological Society), Vol. 29, Supplement to Vol. 67, no. 2 of the Journal of Paleontology (Mar., 1993), pp. 1-76.


The family Palaeothentidae contains some of the dentally more specialized of the small-bodied marsupials of South America and was a clade almost equivalent with the Abderitidae in having been the most abundant caenolestoids. They were unquestionably the most diverse, containing two subfamilies, nine genera, and 19 species, with a distribution ranging from Colombia to Tierra del Fuego. The best and most continuous record of the Palaeothentidae is from Patagonian Argentina where eight genera and 17 species are recognized. There, the Palaeothentidae ranged in age from the Deseadan (later Oligocene) through the late Santacrucian (middle Miocene-the Santacrucian record lasting from about 19.4 m.y. to considerably less than 16.05 m.y. before the present) e i. The family appears to have survived longer in Colombia. The palaeothentine Palaeothentes boliviensis (Bolivia) and the incertae sedis genus and species Hondathentes cazador (Colombia) are the only taxa restricted to an extra-Argentine distribution.