AskDefine | Define metatherian

Dictionary Definition

metatherian n : primitive pouched mammals found mainly in Australia and the Americas

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Any of the pouched animals; marsupial

Extensive Definition

Metatheria is a grouping within the animal class Mammalia. First proposed by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1880, it is nearly synonymous with the earlier taxon Marsupialia (Illiger, 1811) though it is slightly wider since it also contains the nearest fossil relatives of marsupial mammals.
The earliest known representatives are from the uppermost Lower Cretaceous of North America.
The closest living relatives of the metatheres are the Eutheria (also erected by Huxley in 1880). Both are conventionally united as infraclasses within the subclass Theria (Parker and Haswell, 1897), which contains all living mammals except monotremes.
The Greek words meta- and theria mean the "changed beasts".

See also


  • McKenna MC & Bell SK, (1997), Classification of Mammals Above the Species Level. Columbia University Press.
metatherian in French: Metatheria
metatherian in Korean: 후수하강
metatherian in Italian: Metatheria
metatherian in Japanese: 後獣下綱
metatherian in Polish: Ssaki niższe
metatherian in Thai: เมทาเธอเรีย
metatherian in Contenese: 後獸亞綱
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