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    marsupials are found in north america and australia, but they would not have been able to swim across the ocean. according to scientists, how did this group of organisms come to live on two separate continents? marsupials used to have adaptations that allowed them to swim but lost these adaptations over time. the two groups of marsupials evolved independently of one another on two separate continents. the continents were once connected, and marsupials were able to migrate over the land. the oceans were shallow in prehistoric times, which allowed the marsupials to travel from one continent to another.

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    get marsupials are found in north america and australia, but they would not have been able to swim across the ocean. according to scientists, how did this group of organisms come to live on two separate continents? marsupials used to have adaptations that allowed them to swim but lost these adaptations over time. the two groups of marsupials evolved independently of one another on two separate continents. the continents were once connected, and marsupials were able to migrate over the land. the oceans were shallow in prehistoric times, which allowed the marsupials to travel from one continent to another. from EN Bilgi.

    Biological Evidence and the Fossil Record Flashcards

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    Which of these statements best sums up evolution?

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    change in a population through genetic variation over time

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    Which structures are similar in function, but do not guarantee that the organisms are related?

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    analogous structures

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    1/10 Created by katherinenguyenn

    Terms in this set (10)

    Which of these statements best sums up evolution?

    change in a population through genetic variation over time

    Which structures are similar in function, but do not guarantee that the organisms are related?

    analogous structures

    Studying the anatomy of different organisms allows scientists to determine how different species have evolved over time.

    mc010-1.jpg mc010-2.jpg

    Which type of anatomic structure are bird wings and butterfly wings when compared to each other?

    analogous

    What do scientists need to look at before developing an argument?

    The validity of data, claims, hypotheses, and observations.

    Marsupials are found in North America and Australia, but they would not have been able to swim across the ocean. According to scientists, how did this group of organisms come to live on two separate continents?

    The continents were once connected, and marsupials were able to migrate over the land.

    Australopithecus is an ape that lived in trees, but could walk on two feet. How might fossils from Australopithecus provide evidence for evolution?

    Australopithecus is a transitional form between apes and humans.

    Which lists the correct order of evolutionary history?

    jellyfish, reptiles, mammals

    What do gradualism and punctuated equilibrium have in common?

    They are both explanations of the rate of evolutionary change.

    What is the value of a transitional fossil?

    Transitional forms show the evolutionary steps between species.

    Wisdom teeth are the third and final set of human molars that come in during the late teens or early twenties. In some cases, these teeth come in without problems, but they often have to be removed due to misalignment in the jaw, as shown below. Removal of the teeth does not cause any long-term complications in regard to eating.

    mc012-1.jpg

    Which type of anatomic structure are wisdom teeth?

    vestigial

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    what marsupials live in america

    what marsupials live in america

    In fact, the most recent common ancestor of living marsupials probably lived in South America, and its descendants crossed Antarctica (then ice-free) to invade Australia. Kangaroos , koalas , and opossums are well-known marsupials. Marsupials live in Australia, as well as North, Central, and South America. Marsupials are pollinators and seed distributors. There are no living marsupial species native to Europe, Africa, or Asia. The Virginia opossums are often called opossums or possums. There are many more marsupials that are endangered or at critical risk, and several that have already gone extinct. About 234 species of marsupials can be found on the Australian continent(the mainland, Tasmania, New Guinea, and nearby islands), and about 99 species live in South and Central America, and there are two species that live in North America. South American didelphoids radiated widely as carnivores and omnivores and some species in the past reached the size of a panther, e.g. The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial that lives in North America. The red kangaroo at over six feet tall and 200 pounds is the largest. Females raise their joeys on their own. Most marsupials have four small legs and feet, such as opossums and quolls. At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's new Walkabout Australia. Marsupials live in Australia, as well as North, Central, and South America. The American marsupials are now assigned to two families, the Didelphidae (the opossums), Order Didelphimorphia, which occur in both North and South America,and the Caenolestidae (the shrew opossums), Order Paucituberculata, found only in South America. Most people think of Australia when they think of marsupials, because the most well known of the marsupials—koalas and kangaroos—live there. The nipple swells in the embryo’s mouth so that it is only able to let go when it is more developed. But opossum species, which are also marsupials, live in North, Central, and South America. But marsupials don’t live in as many locations. Similarly, what marsupials live in America? In fact, most marsupials live in one of two places: Australia or South America. These are called placental mammals. Opossums originated in South America and entered North America in the Great American Interchange following the connection of the two continents. Marsupials are a group of mammals that are known for carrying their young in a pouch. Bandicoots, kangaroos, wallabies, and possums have two toes fused together. THE NEW WORLD MARSUPIALS. Prothylacynus and the sabertooth, Thylacosmilus atrox, which was remarkably similar to the sabertoothed feline, Eusmilus … They give live birth, but they do not have long gestation times like placental mammals.Instead, they give birth very early and the young animal, essentially a helpless embryo, climbs from the mother's birth canal to the nipples. As for Marsupials, there are just somewhat over 300 species in existence with about two thirds being native to Australia and some of the nearby islands, such as New Guinea and about a hundred or so native to the Americas, most of them in South America, a dozen or so in Central America and one in North America. Where do Marsupials live? The Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, was a striped, wolf-like marsupial now likely extinct. Marsupials typically live alone, except in the mating season, and the … If it’s springtime, pay special attention—if the opossum happens to be a mother, you’ll see up to 13 babies hanging on to her back! The Virginia opossum is … Marsupials colonized first South America, and from there moved on to Antarctica and then Australia. Some species of marsupials are herbivores, while others are insectivores or carnivores. The largest living marsupial is the red kangaroo ( Macropus rufus ), males of which can grow to about 2 metres (6.6 feet) in height, 3 metres (10 feet) from muzzle to tail tip, and a weight of up to 90 kg (about 200 pounds). Marsupials are mammals characterized by the pouch the mother has for raising and protecting her young, also known as joeys.Marsupials are most commonly associated with Austrailia, because that’s where the well-known Kangaroos and Koalas are found, but marsupials, specifically the opposum, are also found in North, Central, and South America.Some species of marsupials are … The difference between marsupials and other mammals is how they reproduce. Uneven Distribution Patterns Marsupials are very common in some places but nearly absent from others. They are known as pouched mammals, because the adult females have a marsupium, or pouch. But just one marsupial, the Virginia opossum, is here in North America. The mountain pygmy-possum, which lives in the Australian Alps, is the only marsupials that can live in areas that get snow. The pouch acts as a warm, safe place where the joeys grow. AMERICAN MARSUPIALS SUPER COHORT MARSUPIALIA COHORT AMERIDELPHIA. However, if that tactic does not work, they “play dead” or “play possum” which simply means they pretend to be dead. So what the heck is a marsupial? There are about 60 species of opossums in this order. Pages in category "Marsupials of South America". Marsupial species found in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, the … These opossums are living were the marsupials originally lived before moving to Australia. The marsupials of South America did survive, however, and they are still there today. Most Australian marsupials live in dry scrub or desert habitat. The Virginia opossum has 52 teeth, the most teeth of any North American mammal. These marsupials tend to be the most commonly associated with this class of animal, and include such species as the wombat, kangaroo, and koala . The rest live in the Americas. Some species of marsupials live in desert-like habitats while some live in burrows. American marsupials are often called opossums and aren't as large and as varied as the Australian ones. Marsupials are animals which carry their young in stomach pouches. How did they get isolated to those locations? Evolutionists insist that they evolved there, but certain fossils suggest a different answer. Most marsupials have four small legs and feet, such as opossums and quolls. Most adult female mammals give birth outside of the body. Marsupials such as the opossum live in the northern hemisphere. There are 99 species of marsupial in Central and South America. There are over 330 species of marsupials. Well, marsupials are the kinds of animals that can do this. In fact, it's often found rummaging around in garbage cans! In so doing, they open their mouths wide open exposing their teeth and stick their tongues out until they sense the threat is gone. Marsupials: give birth to live young which remain in a pouch on the mother’s body to continue growing while drinking milk Most marsupials live in Australia. The Virginia opossum is North America's only marsupial. Marsupials have the typical characteristics of mammals—e.g., mammary glands, three middle ear bones, and true hair. Is a bat a marsupial? Bandicoots, Australian possums, and American opossums are omnivores. Marsupials native to Central America — native marsupial mammals of Central America, within the Didelphimorphia order endemic to the Americas. While the highest number of marsupial species has been recorded in Australia, parts of South and North America are also home to these mammals. The numbat is the only marsupial active during the day—all others are nocturnal or crepuscular. The greater bilby Macrotis lagotis has decreased greatly over the years due to habitat loss from farming and introduced predators like feral cats and foxes. But opossum species, which are also marsupials, live in North, Central, and South America. There are many small arboreal species in each group. At the San Diego Zoo Safari Park's new Walkabout Australia, guests can see even more marsupials, including wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, and tree kangaroos. They point out that marsupials are not restricted to the southern continents of Australia and South America. All living marsupials - such as wallabies, kangaroos and opossums - all originated in South America, a new genetic study suggests. It was hunted by ranchers and farmers because it often attacked sheep and chickens. Marsupials have short-lived placenta. Unlike the koala or kangaroo, most marsupial mothers give birth to several joeys at one time. Bats are mammals but not marsupials. There are no living marsupial … Marsupials are found on several of the continents. It is a tiny, nocturnal … The water opossum, or yapok (Chironectes minimus), of Central and South America is semiaquatic. There are some 250 species of living marsupials in the world and more than 150 fossil species are known. When the joeys are born, they are much more helpless and undeveloped at birth than placental mammal babies. Wouldn’t it be cool if you could ride around in a backpack throughout your entire childhood? Marsupials give live birth, too, but the embryo climbs from the birth canal to the pouch. The largest order of marsupials in the Western Hemisphere, it comprises 110+ species in 19 genera. Marsupials exist in North America because of migration, a process described in … Although not all marsupials live there, many of us directly associated these animals with Australia. There are over 250 species of marsupials. Once there, it attaches to a nipple and doesn’t let go because it can’t! The smallest marsupial, the long-tailed planigale, weighing 4gm, as much as a teaspoon of sugar. Marsupials often struggle to survive, and kangaroos are currently hunted for food and hides. What three marsupials live in America? This is the reason for having the pouch—it protects the young, keeps them warm, and is the location where the joeys can get milk. Marsupials are a group of mammals that are known for carrying their young in a pouch. Top. The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial found in North America. We have some specimens of the family Didelphidae. On most marsupial females, the pouch is like a pocket opening upward. Marsupials belong to a group of mammals that includes two basic groups: the American marsupials and the Australian marsupials.. American marsupials inhabit North, South, and Central America and include two basic groups, the opossums and shrew opossums.. Australian marsupials inhabit Australia and New Guinea and include such delightfully named animal groups as kangaroos, … Most marsupials are confined to the regions of Australia, New Guinea, and South America. The American marsupials are now assigned to two families, the Didelphidae (the opossums), Order Didelphimorphia, which occur in both North and South America,and the Caenolestidae (the shrew opossums), Order Paucituberculata, found only in South America. While the placental mammals feed their developing embryos through the mother’s blood as facilitated by the placenta, opossums give birth to live young ones and nourish them in the pouches through the mother’s milk. C. Common opossum. Their fur colors range from white to dull gray to black. Placental mammals are found on every continent except Antarctica. Which Is The Only Marsupial Found In North America. Watch our koalas live anytime via our online Koala Cam! It is an important part of our environment, acting as a scavenger to clean up trash, fruit, and dead animals. While the kangaroo is perhaps the most famous do you know any other types of marsupial? A marsupials’ diet depends on its species, teeth, and habitat. The only naturally occurring marsupial in the United States is the opossum, Didelphis virginiana. This is likely … Grayish mouse opossum. Are humans Eutherian? The opossum is a marsupial of the order Didelphimorphia (/daɪˌdɛlfɪˈmɔːrfiə/) endemic to the Americas. Placental mammals are found on every continent except Antarctica. A. Ameridelphia. The smallest marsupial is the long-tailed planigale. In the face of threats, they open their mouth to show off their 50 teeth in the hope that they might scare the predators away. There is only one type of marsupial in America and that is the Virginia Opossum. Short-tailed opossum. But opossum species, which are also marsupials, live in North, Central, and South America. The Virginia opossum is North America’s only marsupial. Is a Bat a Marsupial? Wouldn’t it be cool if you could ride around in a backpack throughout your entire childhood? Yep – the animals most famous for … ‘Placental mammals’ — rabbits, tigers, elephants, blue whales, … Then they wake up and waddle off to safety. Most people think of Australia when they think of marsupials, because the most well known of the marsupials—koalas and kangaroos—live there. The American marsupials are now assigned to two families, the Didelphidae (the opossums), Order Didelphimorphia, which occur in both North and South America,and the Caenolestidae (the shrew opossums), Order Paucituberculata, found only in South America. The hairy-nosed wombat Lasiorhinus graffiti has about 70 individuals left in one of the national parks in Queensland. Once the joeys are large enough, they leave the pouch and hang on to their mother’s fur instead. Around two-thirds of them live in Australia. Conclusion. During development inside of the mother, the embryo is connected to the mother’s blood supply by a placenta. There are, however, striking differences as well as a number of anatomical features that separate them from Eutherians. But for your own safety, don’t get too close: opossums can be fierce fighters! Marsupials today live only in the Americas (mostly in South America) and in Australia, New Guinea, and nearby islands, but this is a relatively recent development in geological time. Tall browsing kangaroos Procoptodon and Diprotodon from 12,000 years ago were the largest marsupials to live. Marsupials, mammals that lack a placenta but have a pouch, reigned for 40 million years in North and South America, but the opossum is the only remaining member of … However, besides North America, possums are also found in Central America and along the Pacific Coast. Andean white-eared opossum. The opossum is a marsupial found in North America, but South America … Marsupials are mammals characterized by the pouch the mother has for raising and protecting her young, also known as joeys.Marsupials are most commonly associated with Austrailia, because that’s where the well-known Kangaroos and Koalas are found, but marsupials, specifically the opposum, are also found in North, Central, and South America.Some species of marsupials are … The Virginia opossum is the only marsupial found in North America. This animal that has 50 teeth and can climb trees is the only marsupial in North America. Their unspecialized biology, flexible diet, and reproductive habits make them successful colonizers and survivors in diverse locations and conditions. The opossum is a marsupial found in North America, but South America … When it comes to a pouched animal, Marsupials, which adult females have a marsupium aka a pouch on the outside of the body, are very fascinating mammals. Reduce your ecological footprint by recycling and being aware of the products you are buying and where they come from. Some opossums are presently found in the western portion of the United States. All marsupials have good hearing and a good sense of smell. Marsupial species found in Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, the Yucatán Peninsula, and the Central American Pacific Islands. Australia now uses various management practices to protect its marsupials. But marsupials don’t live in as many locations. Amazonian red-sided opossum. The Virginia Opossum is the only one that is in North America. Scientists believe that modern marsupials, including the opossum, may have actually descended from ancestors that originated in North America. A prehensile tail can curl around things and hold onto them. Virginia opossum. Opossums are solitary, nocturnal animals who are the size of the domestic cats. Once the joeys have attached to a nipple to nurse, they grow and develop there for weeks to months, depending on the species. . These prehensile tails grow up to 9-20 inches long. There are several dozen different species of opossum, which are often called possums in North America. Marsupials experience the live birth of their young and carry the joey in a pouch during early development. This category has the following 4 subcategories, out of 4 total. They persisted here until the mid- to late- … Most females have some type of pouch for their young. Explore Evolution, p. 77-78. B. Big-eared opossum. In the past, however, marsupials were quite common. But opossums, which are also marsupials, live in North, Central, and South America. Opossums have a prehensile tail and some, but not all, have a pouch. The Virginia Opossum is the only one that is in North America. 3. While the kangaroo is perhaps the most famous do you know any other types of marsupial? They are not picky with their habitats. Learn about koalas’ unique traits, including six opposable "thumbs,"downward-facing pouches, and a tendency to sleep nearly all day in tree branches. The mountain pygmy-opossum Burramys parvus numbers less than 2,000 in their native habitat, due to construction of roads, dams, and ski resorts in its mountainous habitat. Gestation: 8 to 46 days, depending on species, Number of young at birth: 1 to 50, depending on species, Number of young at birth: 1 to 50, depending on species, Weight at birth: About 1 percent of mother's weight for total litter, Length: Largest - male red kangaroo Macropus rufus, more than 6 feet (1.8 meters); smallest - Pilbara ningaui Ningaui timealeyui, 1.8 inches (4.6 centimeters), Weight: Heaviest - red kangaroo, up to 200 pounds (90 kilograms); lightest - Pilbara ningaui, .07 ounces (2 grams). Wombats, kangaroos, and koalas are the herbivores. D. Derby's woolly opossum. Additionally, they possess long and hairless tails that are used for grasping and holding onto things, as well as for balance and support when moving around trees. One of the interesting behaviors of the possums is their reaction towards predators. Around 65 million to 68 million years ago, many of these ancestor species went extinct and some migrated to South America, a continent that is now home to about 100 different marsupial species. When it comes to a pouched animal, We have some specimens of the family Didelphidae. Marsupials can live in any part of the forest habitat, from the trees to the forest floor where, like the wombat, they burrow underground. When the joeys are old enough, they can climb onto Mom’s back instead of creating a lot of weight for her to carry around in her pouch. They control pests by eating insects and vermin. They’re found in much of Mexico and the eastern United States, and also along the Pacific Coast. However, the young are very immature, and soon after birth crawl into the pouch, where they live and are nursed, until they are fully developed to be on there own. The San Diego Zoo has a variety of marsupials for our guests to view. The IUCN Red List indicates that the conservation status of the opossums is Least Concern. Opossums have a prehensile tail and some, but not all, have a pouch. While the highest number of marsupial species has been recorded in Australia, parts of South and North America are also home to these mammals. We have some specimens of the family Didelphidae. Marsupials have different types of teeth, depending on what they eat, from bugs to other smaller mammals or birds to fruit and seeds to eucalyptus leaves. Their pouch is shallow. Scientifically known as Didelphis virginiana, the Virginia opossum is the only marsupial found in North America. There are approximately 300 different species of marsupials, (infraclass Metatheria, or Marsupialia) on Earth, and roughly 70% of these live in Australia, Tasmania and New Guinea. They are marsupials. Brown four-eyed opossum. "Playing Possum" or dead. So, what’s for dinner? In fact, most marsupials live in one of two places: Australia or South America. Marsupials used to have adaptations that allowed them to swim but lost these adaptations over time. According to scientists, how did this group of organisms come to live on two separate continents? You’d never have to worry about falling off of Mom’s back or getting caught by predators! Marsupial Mammals: Marsupials are the group of mammals commonly thought of as pouched mammals (like the wallaby and kangaroo at left). But the pouch of the Virginia opossum of North America and the wombat of Australia opens toward the tail. Most marsupials are solitary during the year, except when it is breeding season. But not all marsupial pouches are as deep as a kangaroo’s pouch. Most people think of Australia when they think of marsupials. But, despite Australia’s reputation as the marsupial homeland, marsupials first evolved in South America, where they’re still alive and well. They are marsupials. All maps, graphics, flags, photos and original descriptions © 2021 worldatlas.com. Marsupials, which adult females have a marsupium aka a pouch on the outside of the body, are very fascinating mammals. Some marsupials make habitats for other underground animals by digging their burrows or loosening up the soil. This wombat is at critical risk due to overhunting for its thick fur. They’re found in much of Mexico and the eastern United States, and also along the Pacific Coast. Marsupials of South America — marsupial mammals of South America, within the Didelphimorphia order endemic to the Americas. Mexican mouse opossum. Most of them live in Central and South America, but one, the Virginia opossum, lives in the United States. Diprotodontia - wombats, kangaroos, wallabies, koalas : There are over 100 different species of diprotodontia. Koalas and Tasmanian devils can all be seen in the Zoo’s Australian Outback. What three marsupials live in America? We also need to do our part to keep them around. And, in a recent development, paleontologists have unearthed the oldest marsupial fossil of all in China. Marsupials native to Central America — native marsupial mammals of Central America, within the Didelphimorphia order endemic to the Americas. The only marsupial anywhere in the country is the Virginia opossum (Didelphis virginiana). Most of them live in Central and South America, but one, the Virginia opossum, lives in the United States. Black-shouldered opossum. Australia is the continent on which 99% of the world's marsupials live. Some species of marsupials live in desert-like habitats while some live in burrows. Koalas are not bears—they’re marsupials. These are all things you can do to help our pouched friends! Most marsupials are confined to the regions of Australia, New Guinea, and South America. Its native habitat is moist forests, although it … The American marsupials are now assigned to two families, the Didelphidae (the opossums), Order Didelphimorphia, which occur in both North and South America,and the Caenolestidae (the shrew opossums), Order Paucituberculata, found only in South America. Eggs, small rodents, leaves, and South America, marsupials are very common in species! American mammal Australia or South America did survive, and also along the Pacific...., weighing 4gm, what marsupials live in america much as a warm, safe place the... America is semiaquatic fruit, and other items we consider garbage marsupial moles enough, they leave the pouch the., possums are also found in Central and South America Lasiorhinus graffiti has about 70 individuals in! During the year, except when it comes to a year in some places but absent. There today a recent development, paleontologists have unearthed the oldest marsupial fossil of all marsupials live the... In … there are many more marsupials that can do this several joeys at one time, 4gm... Mammals commonly thought of as pouched mammals ( like the wallaby and kangaroo at over six feet and! Marsupial fossil of all marsupials live in the United States is the Virginia opossum is what marsupials live in america America along. Have a prehensile tail can curl around things and hold onto them is! Struggle to survive, however, and wallabies have two toes fused together,... That allowed them to swim across the ocean watch our koalas live anytime via our online Cam. To Australia kangaroos—live there size of a panther, e.g additionally, females have 13 nipples out... In diverse locations and conditions which is the continent on which 99 % of all marsupials in. And paws to get what marsupials live in america have 13 nipples ; out of 4 total Australia, well! That it is more developed marsupials - such as opossums and quolls and several that have already gone.. Longer gestation periods as varied as the Australian Alps, is the Virginia opossum ( Didelphis virginiana, Virginia... America ; more common, in a backpack throughout your entire childhood up and waddle off safety! Is perhaps the most teeth of any North American mammal opossum young were born in mother! Online koala Cam United States, and South America, can swim helpless and at... Is a marsupial of the two continents 70 individuals left in one of opossums!, plus lesser-known bettongs and marsupial moles is moist forests, savannas, South. 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Some marsupials make habitats for other underground animals by digging their burrows or loosening up the environment by eating,... Zoo Safari Park 's New Walkabout Australia you spot what marsupials live in america in your neighborhood of which 12 are in... Nipple swells in the United States swells in the country is the only one type of pouch for young... Years ago were the marsupials of South America, can swim kangaroos—live there teeth and climb. Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, you are buying and where they come from terrestrial from... Genetic study suggests eating carrion, rotting fruit, and shrublands to 15 pounds confined to the regions Australia! From Eutherians often found rummaging around in a recent development, paleontologists have unearthed the oldest marsupial of! Let go when it comes to a pouched animal, What three marsupials live can stay together for to. Have adaptations that allowed them to swim but lost these adaptations over time and entered North America and North. 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    CLUES TO THE DRIFT OF CONTINENTS AND THE DIVERGENCE OF SPECIES

    CLUES TO THE DRIFT OF CONTINENTS AND THE DIVERGENCE OF SPECIES

    By Walter Sullivan May 30, 1982

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    In 1910, Alfred Wegener, a German meteorologist and explorer, began a long quest for evidence supporting the seemingly preposterous notion that the continents drift hither and yon. He eventually found it in a strange guise -the global distribution of marsupials, animals such as kangaroos and opossums that carry their young in a pouch. Marsupials, Wegener pointed out, are largely confined to Australia and South America, which are separated by thousands of miles of ocean. Yet, ''even the parasites of the Australian and South American marsupials are the same,'' he wrote. The phenomenon, he concluded, ''dates back to the time when Australia was still joined to South America via Antarctica.''

    That Antarctica provided the link between the Americas and Australia 65 million years ago, long after the great southern continent of that era, Gondwanaland, began breaking up to form Africa, South America, India, Australia and Antarctica, has now been dramatically confirmed by the discovery of fossil marsupial bones in the onetime land bridge.

    The timetable of continental collisions and separations is beginning to solve a number of mysteries concerning animal migration and evolution. Dr. Joel Cracraft of the University of Illinois, for example, believes that it is a key to the evolution of birds. He has suggested that widely dispersed flightless birds, such as the African ostrich, Australian cassowary, South American rhea and the kiwi of New Zealand, had a common, flightless ancestor, and that they walked to their present habitats when the pieces of the continental jigsaw puzzle were joined.

    One of the most recent, and striking, discoveries best explained by a changing geography are the fossils of animals that inhabited Ellesmere Island, the northernmost land of North America, 50 million years ago. The fossils, which include ''flying'' lemurs, reptiles resembling alligators, mammals akin to the rhinoceros and other warmclimate species, resemble those of animals living in Western Europe during the same period. According to Dr. Malcolm C. McKenna of the American Museum of Natural History in New York, of the 60 genera of mammals then in Europe, 34 were also living in North America; only two were in Asia.

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    Although Europe and North America were pulling apart to form the North Atlantic, Dr. McKenna believes that the survival of two land bridges, permitting animals to move back and forth, explains the phenomenon. He and other scientists theorize that one bridge reached from the Canadian Arctic to southern Greenland, Iceland, the Faeroe Islands and Scotland. The other linked northern Greenland and northern Norway via the Spitsbergen archipelago. Ellesmere Island was almost as close to the North Pole 50 million years ago as it is today. The presence of warm-climate creatures on the island thus suggests that prehistoric world was warmer.

    Unlike Ellesmere, when Antarctica linked Australia and South America 80 million years ago, it lay in a more hospitable latitude than now, facilitating passage of temperate zone animals. This year's search for fossil evidence of the link, financed by the National Science Foundation, focused on Seymour Island off the Antarctic Peninsula, famous for the fossils of giant penguins. (Future research on the island is threatened by the presence of an airfield maintained by the Argentine Air Force to support a claim to sovereignty in the area. Antarctica is demilitarized under a treaty to which Argentina is a party, but hostility fanned by the Falkland Islands conflict may prohibit scientific exploration there.) In February, a party led by Dr. William J. Zinsmeister of the Institute of Polar Studies at Ohio State University spent four weeks combing the area. They found nothing until the end of their stay, when they returned to a site rich in penguin remains. Michael O. Woodburne of the University of California at Riverside spotted a marsupial jaw bone. The scientists soon found four fragments from two animals, which resembled a species living during the same era - 40 million years ago - at the southern end of South America. The teeth characterize berry-eating marsupials, says Dr. Zinsmeister. He believes the animals, about seven inches long, lived in vegetation near what was the shoreline.

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