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This chapter presents a paleoecological analysis of non-carnivorous Santacrucian
marsupials of the orders Paucituberculata and Microbiotheria. Different
ecological niches are inferred from estimates of body mass, diet, and locomotor
behavior. Body masses were estimated using a regression analysis based on living
marsupials. Possible dietary preferences were explored by an analysis of the
development of molar shearing crests. Inferences about locomotor behaviors of
some species with well-preserved postcranial skeletal remains were derived from
a published morphofunctional analysis. From the wide range of estimated body
masses and diet several niches were inferred: small- to medium-sized
insectivores, small- to medium-sized insectivore–frugivores, and medium-
to large-sized frugivores. According to our results, Paucituberculata and
Microbiotheria of the Santa Cruz Formation constitute an ecologically diverse
assemblage that inhabited forested habitats, developed under warm temperatures
and seasonal rainfall. These forested habitats could have supported several
non-carnivorous marsupial niches, offering diverse resources both in the spatial
dimensions and in the trophic ones.