The sequence of molar eruption, along with the timing of replacement of the 3rd deciduous premolar by a permanent premolar, has been documented in several species in the family Didelphidae, and routinely used to establish age classes. We documented the dental eruption and replacement patterns in the 3 species of the neotropical marsupial genus Caluromys, which constitute one of the most basal groups within the Didelphidae. We examined 258 specimens of Caluromys derbianus, 54 specimens of C. lanatus, and 386 specimens of C. philander. These species have a dental eruption pattern that is similar to that of Marmosops, with replacement of the 3rd deciduous premolar after eruption of the 4th molar. However, we sometimes found incompletely erupted P3 and M4 occurring simultaneously as part of a M4–P3 eruption sequence. We suggest that the occurrence of this intermediate pattern in other taxa should be verified by examination of large series of specimens. Because teeth erupting in sequence can be erroneously considered as fitting an intermediate pattern, eruption sequence and time of completion of development should be used separately when using dental eruption in phylogenetic analyses. Because of the high degree of intraspecific variation observed in several taxa in Didelphidae, a system of age classes based solely on eruption of upper molars may be more useful than those that combine information on molar eruption sequence and timing of premolar replacement.
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