Saturday, December 13, 2008

Dwarf crocodile is three species

In the latest example of applying DNA to taxonomy, a team from the Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics at the American Museum of Natural History was looking into the distinctiveness of populations of the African dwarf crocodile, which had been split off on morphological grounds into separate subspecies. Looking at dwarf croc DNA samples from all over the African continent, researchers discovered that, not only were the two subspecies more properly described as full species in the genus Osteolaemus, but there was a third species no one had distinguished. The scientists sequenced over 4,000 more base pairs of DNA (both mitochondrial and nuclear) from more than 80 individuals to work it all out.

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