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Evolutionary relationships within the family Cordylidae (Squamata)

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Description: The Cordylidae is Sub-Saharan Africa's only endemic lizard family. The group is primarily rupicolous, though its members display a wide variety of phenotypes. The family has a complicated taxonomic history and a recent phylogenetic analysis revealed extensive paraphyly among the four existing genera, sinking the morphologically distinct Pseudocordylus and Chamaesaura into Cordylus. This study analyzes five nuclear and three mitochondrial genes from 151 specimens, representing 50 ingroup taxa. Parsimony, likelihood and Bayesian analyses of concatenated and partitioned datasets recovered a comb-like tree with 11, well-supported lineages. Divergence dating and other analyses return results that are consistent with a rapid radiation event at the base of non-platysaur cordylids, occurring during the Oligocene, possibly as a result of increased fitness from viviparity during this cool, dry period. A taxonomic reassessment of this family recommends the creation of five new genera in addition to the resurrection of three previously synonymized genera.
Language: English
Format: Degree Work