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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2012 Jun;63(3):825-33. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2012.02.021. Epub 2012 Mar 12.

Out of Asia: natricine snakes support the Cenozoic Beringian Dispersal Hypothesis.

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College of Life Sciences and Food Engineering, Yibin University, Yibin 644007, China.


Based on a combination of six mitochondrial gene fragments (12S RNA, cyt b, ND1, ND2, ND4 and CO1) and one nuclear gene (c-mos) from 22 genera we infer phylogenetic relationships among natricine snakes and examine the date and area of origin of these snakes. Our phylogenetic results indicate: (1) the subfamily Natricinae is strongly supported as monophyletic including a majority of extant genera, and a poorly known and previously unassigned species Trachischium monticola, (2) two main clades are inferred within Natricinae, one containing solely taxa from the Old World (OW) and the other comprising taxa from a monophyletic New World (NW) group with a small number of OW relatives. Within the first clade, the genera Xenochrophis and Amphiesma are apparently not monophyletic. Divergence dating and ancestral area estimation indicate that the natricines originated in tropical Asia during the later Eocene or the Oligocene. We recover two major dispersals events out of Asia, the first to Africa in the Oligocene (28 Ma) and the second to the Western Palearctic and the New World at 27 Ma. This date is consistent with the dispersal of numerous other OW groups into the NW.

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