Phylogeny, evolution, and biogeography of Asiatic Salamanders (Hynobiidae)

Peng Zhang, Yue Qin Chen, Hui Zhou, Yi Fei Liu, Xiu Ling Wang, Theodore J. Papenfuss, David B. Wake, Liang Hu Qu

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We sequenced 15 complete mitochondrial genomes and performed comprehensive molecular phylogenetic analyses to study the origin and phylogeny of the Hynobiidae, an ancient lineage of living salamanders. Our phylogenetic analyses show that the Hynobiidae is a clade with well resolved relationships, and our results contrast with a morphology-based phylogenetic hypothesis. These salamanders have low vagility and are limited in their distribution primarily by deserts, mountains, and oceans. Our analysis suggests that the relationships among living hynobiids have been shaped primarily by geography. We show that four-toed species assigned to Batrachuperus do not form a monophyletic group, and those that occur in Afghanistan and Iran are transferred to the resurrected Paradactylodon. Convergent morphological characters in different hynobiid lineages are likely produced by similar environmental selective pressures. Clock-independent molecular dating suggests that hynobiids originated in the Middle Cretaceous [≈110 million years ago (Mya)]. We propose an "out of North China" hypothesis for hynobiid origins and hypothesize an ancestral stream-adapted form. Given the particular distributional patterns and our molecular dating estimates, we hypothesize that: (i) the interior desertification from Mongolia to Western Asia began ≈50 Mya; (ii) the Tibetan plateau (at least on the eastern fringe) experienced rapid uplift ≈40 Mya and reached an altitude of at least 2,500 m; and (iii) the Ailao-Red River shear zone underwent the most intense orogenic movement ≈24 Mya.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7360-7365
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 9 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General

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