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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2012 Jan;62(1):496-507. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2011.10.022. Epub 2011 Nov 12.

Dating cryptodiran nodes: origin and diversification of the turtle superfamily Testudinoidea.

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  • 1Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution, Université Montpellier 2, CC064, Place Eugène Bataillon, 34095 Montpellier Cedex 05, France.


The superfamily Testudinoidea is the most diverse and widely distributed clade of extant turtles. Surprisingly, despite an extensive fossil record, and increasing amount of molecular data available, the temporal origin of this group is still largely unknown. To address this issue, we used a comprehensive molecular dataset to perform phylogenetic and molecular dating analyses, as well as seven fossil constraints to calibrate the ages of the nodes in the phylogeny. The molecular dataset includes the complete mitochondrial genomes of 37 turtle species, including newly sequenced mitochondrial genomes of Phrynops hilarii, Emys orbicularis, Rhinoclemmys punctularia, and Chelonoidis nigra, and four nuclear markers. Our results revealed that the earliest divergences within crown testudinoids occurred around 95.0 Mya, in the early Late Cretaceous, earlier than previously reported, raising new questions about the historical biogeography of this group.

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