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The mitochondrial genomes of the iguana (Iguana iguana) and the caiman (Caiman crocodylus): implications for amniote phylogeny

Axel Janke, Dirk Erpenbeck, Malin Nilsson, Ulfur Arnason


The complete mitochondrial genomes of two reptiles, the common iguana (Iguana iguana) and the caiman (Caiman crocodylus), were sequenced in order to investigate phylogenetic questions of tetrapod evolution. The addition of the two species allows analysis of reptilian relationships using data sets other than those including only fast–evolving species. The crocodilian mitochondrial genomes seem to have evolved generally at a higher rate than those of other vertebrates. Phylogenetic analyses of 2889 amino–acid sites from 35 mitochondrial genomes supported the bird–crocodile relationship, lending no support to the Haematotherma hypothesis (with birds and mammals representing sister groups). The analyses corroborated the view that turtles are at the base of the bird–crocodile branch. This position of the turtles makes Diapsida paraphyletic. The origin of the squamates was estimated at 294 million years (Myr) ago and that of the turtles at 278 Myr ago. Phylogenetic analysis of mammalian relationships using the additional outgroups corroborated the Marsupionta hypothesis, which joins the monotremes and the marsupials to the exclusion of the eutherians.

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