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Marsupial relationships and a timeline for marsupial radiation in South Gondwana

Nilsson, M.A., Arnason, U., Spencer, P.B.S.ORCID: 0000-0002-4938-2615 and Janke, A. (2004) Marsupial relationships and a timeline for marsupial radiation in South Gondwana. Gene, 340 (2). pp. 189-196.

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Recent marsupials include about 280 species divided into 18 families and seven orders. Approximately 200 species live in Australia/New Guinea. The remaining species inhabit South America with some of these secondarily ranging into North America. In this study, we examine marsupial relationships and estimate their divergences times using complete mitochondrial (mt) genomes. The sampling, which includes nine new mtDNAs and a total number of 19 marsupial genomes, encompasses all extant orders and 14 families. The analysis identified a basal split between Didelphimorphia and remaining orders about 69 million years before present (MYBP), while other ordinal divergences were placed in Tertiary times. The monotypic South American order Microbiotheria (Dromiciops gliroides, Monito del Monte) was solidly nested among its Australian counterparts. The results suggest that marsupials colonized Australia twice from Antarctica/South America and that the divergence between Microbiotheria and its Australian relatives coincided with the geological separation of Antarctica and Australia. Within Australia itself, several of the deepest divergences were estimated to have taken place close to the Eocene/Oligocene transition.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier BV
Copyright: © 2004 Elsevier B.V.
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