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Science. 1996 Aug 23;273(5278):1091-3.

Late Pleistocene Desiccation of Lake Victoria and Rapid Evolution of Cichlid Fishes

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T. C. Johnson and R. D. Ricketts, Large Lakes Observatory, University of Minnesota, Duluth, MN 55812, USA. C. A. Scholz, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Miami, Miami, FL 33149, USA. M. R. Talbot, Geological Institute, University of Bergen, 5007 Bergen, Norway. K. Kelts, G. Ngobi, K. Beuning, Limnological Research Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA. I. Ssemmanda, Department of Geology, Makerere University, Post Office Box 7062, Kampala, Uganda. J. W. McGill, Embangweni Hospital, Post Office Box 7, Embangweni, Malawi.


Lake Victoria is the largest lake in Africa and harbors more than 300 endemic species of haplochromine cichlid fish. Seismic reflection profiles and piston cores show that the lake not only was at a low stand but dried up completely during the Late Pleistocene, before 12,400 carbon-14 years before the present. These results imply that the rate of speciation of cichlid fish in this tropical lake has been extremely rapid.

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