Our Ancestor!
and All Our Relations

Our Ancestor! A population of little placental mammals, each no bigger than a squirrel, that survived the dinosaur extinction 65 million years ago would evolve into all the families of (non-pouched, non-marsupial) mammals that we know and love. Kids are often thrilled to learn that they are cousins to their pet cats, dogs, and rats through this ancient ancestor.

Six broad taxonomic categories of placental mammals are shown here:

  • Proboscidea & Sirenia - elephants and manatees
  • Carnivora - cats, dogs, bears
  • Artiodactyls (2-toe hoofs) of peccary, camel, deer, pig + closely associated Cetacea (whale family)
  • Primates - people, apes, lemurs, monkeys
  • Perissodactyla (odd # toe hoofs) - tapir, horse, rhino
  • Rodentia (rodents) - porcupine, rat, beaver, squirrel

    NOTE: Connie Barlow has used this chart with kids and adults, in telling the 65 million year story of the North American continent. For playful ways to learn this story, see 4 different versions of the experiential process, "Coming Home to North America".

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