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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2004 Jul;32(1):287-96.

Mitochondrial evidence for the origin of hamadryas baboons.

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  • 1Department of Anthropology, New York Univesity, USA.


Baboons (Mammalia: Primates, Papio) are found primarily on the continent of Africa, but the range of hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas) extends to the Arabian Peninsula, and the origin of Arabian populations is unclear. To estimate the timing of the divergence between Arabian and African hamadryas populations we analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences from individuals of Arabian and African origin, and from representatives of the other major baboon taxa. The oldest hamadryas mitochondrial lineages in the Arabian Peninsula form an ancient trichotomy with the two major African lineages. This suggests that Arabia was colonized by hamadryas very soon after the appearance of the distinctive hamadryas phenotype, both events perhaps coinciding with a mid-Pleistocene stage of dry climate and low sea-level. The most closely related Arabian and African mtDNA haplotypes coalesce at approximately 35 ka, suggesting that no gene flow between African and Arabian baboons has occurred since the end of the last ice age, when a land bridge at the southern sill of the Red Sea was submerged. The mitochondrial paraphyly of Ethiopian hamadryas and anubis (P. anubis) baboons suggests an extensive and complex history of sex-specific introgression.

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