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a family of mammals of the order Marsupialia. Caenolestids, whose body length is 9–14 cm and tail length 6–13 cm, bear a physical resemblance to rats. The hairy covering is dense and brownish. The head is elongated, and the eyes and ears are small. The tail is covered with short, sparse hairs. The marsupium is present only in the young. The extremities have five digits. There are four pairs of incisors in the upper jaw and three or four pairs in the lower jaw, of which the first pair is very large. The brain is very primitive, with large olfactory lobes.
Caenolestids form a group intermediate between Polyprotodontia and Diprotodontia. The family has three (or seven) species, belonging to three genera: Caenolestes, Lestores, and Rhyncholestes. Caenolestids are distributed in the western part of South America, from southern Venezuela to southern Chile, inhabiting forested regions and mountains up to elevations of 4,200 m. They are terrestrial and nocturnal. They feed on invertebrates. Their numbers are few.
REFERENCESZhizn’ zhivotnykh, vol. 6. Moscow, 1971.
Sokolov, V. E. Sistematika mlekopitaiushchikh. Moscow, 1973.