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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2005 Dec;37(3):899-919. Epub 2005 Aug 18.

Confrontation of morphological and molecular data: the Praomys group (Rodentia, Murinae) as a case of adaptive convergences and morphological stasis.

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  • 1Département Systématique et Evolution, UMR CNRS 5202 Origine, structure et évolution de la Biodiversité, Mammifères et Oiseaux, Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Case Postale 51, 55 rue Buffon 75 005 Paris, France.


Phylogenetic relationships in a group of 21 African rodent species designated as the Praomys group (Murinae) were investigated using morphological characters and sequence data from the complete mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and nuclear IRBP gene fragment (840bp). The molecular results confirm the monophyly of the Praomys group, including the species Malacomys verschureni, while the other Malacomys species appear very divergent. The basal relationships within the Praomys group are poorly resolved, suggesting a rapid radiation at about 7-9 million years ago based on genetic divergence rates calibrated from the fossil record. Discrepancies between molecular and morphological results probably reflect of numerous convergences as well as variations in the rates of morphological evolution among lineages. Reconstructions of the ancestral character states suggest a savannah origin for the Praomys group, along with some morphological traits conserved by stasis in savannah taxa. At the same time, forest taxa seem to be characterized by an accelerated morphological evolution, with acquisition of convergent adaptive characters.

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