The order Dasyuromorphia includes three families of carnivorous marsupials in the superfamily Dasyuroidea: the Dasyuridae (dasyures), the Myrmecobiidae (numbat), and the Thylacinidae (thylacines). The dasyurids and thylacinids are more closely related to each other than they are to the numbat.
The Australian marsupial radiation produced a number of other species of carnivorous marsupials in the otherwise herbivorous order Diprotodontia. These include two genera (Thylacoleo and Wakaleo) and seven species of large, up to 220 lb (100 kg), predatory marsupial lions of the family Thylacoleonidae, which are most closely related to koalas and wombats (superfamily Vombatoidea), and an omnivorous (partly flesh-
The earliest known carnivorous marsupial in Australia, Djarthia murgonensis, comes from the early Eocene (55 million years ago [mya]). The taxonomic affiliation of this and two other early carnivorous marsupials is not certain, as key anatomical features used to clearly identify them to family level or even to separate them from the South American marsupial fauna are lacking in the fossils found to date.
The Australian dasyuromorphian and American marsupial taxa are quite distinct but are allied in the possession of many incisors (polyprotodonty) which distinguish them from the herbivorous Diprotodontia. Dasyuromorphians originated in the late Oligocene. The early radiation comprised the very conservative or “primitive” thylacinids.
Ranging in size from small dog-