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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2002 Dec;25(3):501-10.

Molecular phylogeny and evolution of the extinct bovid Myotragus balearicus.

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  • 1Laboratori d'Antropologia, Facultat de Biologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Avda. Diagonal 645, Spain.


Myotragus balearicus was a dwarf artiodactyl endemic to the Eastern Balearic Islands, where it evolved in isolation for more than 5 million years before becoming extinct between 3640 and 2135 cal BC (calibrated years BC). Numerous unusual apomorphies obscure the relationship between Myotragus and the extant Caprinae. Therefore, genetic data for this species would significantly contribute to the clarification of its taxonomic position. In this study, we amplify, sequence, and clone a 338-base pair (bp) segment of the mitochondrial cytochrome b (cyt b) gene from a >9Kyr Myotragus subfossil from la Cova des Gorgs (Mallorca). Our results confirm the phylogenetic affinity of Myotragus with the sheep (Ovis) and the takin (Budorcas). In each tree, the Myotragus branch is long in comparison with the other taxa, which may be evidence of a local change in the rate of evolution in cyt b. This rate change may be due to in part to an early age of first reproduction and short generation time in Myotragus, factors that are potentially related to the extreme reduction in size of the adult Myotragus as compared to the other Caprinae.

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