Paleogenomics illuminates the evolutionary history of the extinct Holocene "horned" crocodile of Madagascar, Voay robustus

E. Hekkala, J. Gatesy, A. Narechania, R. Meredith, M. Russello, M. L. Aardema, E. Jensen, S. Montanari, C. Brochu, M. Norell, G. Amato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Ancient DNA is transforming our ability to reconstruct historical patterns and mechanisms shaping modern diversity and distributions. In particular, molecular data from extinct Holocene island faunas have revealed surprising biogeographic scenarios. Here, we recovered partial mitochondrial (mt) genomes for 1300-1400 year old specimens (n = 2) of the extinct "horned" crocodile, Voay robustus, collected from Holocene deposits in southwestern Madagascar. Phylogenetic analyses of partial mt genomes and tip-dated timetrees based on molecular, fossil, and stratigraphic data favor a sister group relationship between Voay and Crocodylus (true crocodiles). These well supported trees conflict with recent morphological systematic work that has consistently placed Voay within Osteolaeminae (dwarf crocodiles and kin) and provide evidence for likely homoplasy in crocodylian cranial anatomy and snout shape. The close relationship between Voay and Crocodylus lends additional context for understanding the biogeographic origins of these genera and refines competing hypotheses for the recent extinction of Voay from Madagascar.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505
Number of pages1
JournalCommunications biology
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 27 Apr 2021

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