Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Tracking turtles through time, study may resolve evolutionary debate

Date:
May 5, 2014
Source:
Dartmouth College
Summary:
Turtles are more closely related to birds and crocodilians than to lizards and snakes, according to a study that examines one of the most contentious questions in evolutionary biology. The research team looked at how the major groups of living reptiles, which number more than 20,000 species, are interrelated. The relationships of some reptile groups are well understood -- birds are most closely related to crocodilians among living reptiles, while snakes, lizards and New Zealand's tuatara form a natural group. But the question of how turtles fit into this evolutionary picture has remained unclear.

This is a painted turtle.
Credit: Daniel Field

Turtles are more closely related to birds and crocodilians than to lizards and snakes, according to a study from Dartmouth, Yale and other institutions that examines one of the most contentious questions in evolutionary biology.

Related Articles


The findings appear in the journal Evolution & Development. A PDF of the study is available on request.

The research team looked at how the major groups of living reptiles, which number more than 20,000 species, are interrelated. The relationships of some reptile groups are well understood -- birds are most closely related to crocodilians among living reptiles, while snakes, lizards and New Zealand's tuatara form a natural group. But the question of how turtles fit into this evolutionary picture has remained unclear. Are turtles more closely related to archosaurs (birds and crocodilians) or to lepidosaurs (lizards, snakes and tuatara)? Or are these other reptiles more closely related to each other than to turtles?

A growing number of studies examining DNA sequences have suggested a close evolutionary kinship between turtles and archosaurs, but those results were contradicted by anatomical studies and a recent study of small biomolecules called microRNAs. Because microRNAs are viewed by some as excellent evolutionary markers, the conflict between the microRNA and DNA results meant the turtle-archosaur link was viewed skeptically by many.

But the Dartmouth-led team's research suggests the earlier microRNA conclusions were erroneous, and instead indicates that microRNAs and DNA sequences yield a common signal -- that turtles share a more recent common ancestor with birds and crocodilians than with lizards and snakes.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Dartmouth College. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Daniel J. Field, Jacques A. Gauthier, Benjamin L. King, Davide Pisani, Tyler R. Lyson, Kevin J. Peterson. Toward consilience in reptile phylogeny: miRNAs support an archosaur, not lepidosaur, affinity for turtles. Evolution & Development, 2014; DOI: 10.1111/ede.12081

Cite This Page:

Dartmouth College. "Tracking turtles through time, study may resolve evolutionary debate." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 May 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140505130526.htm>.
Dartmouth College. (2014, May 5). Tracking turtles through time, study may resolve evolutionary debate. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 26, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140505130526.htm
Dartmouth College. "Tracking turtles through time, study may resolve evolutionary debate." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/05/140505130526.htm (accessed March 26, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Jockey Motion Tracking Reveals Racing Prowess

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 26, 2015) Using motion tracking technology, researchers from the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) are trying to establish an optimum horse riding style to train junior jockeys, as well as enhance safety, health and well-being of both racehorses and jockeys. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

Botswana Talks to End Illegal Wildlife Trade

AFP (Mar. 25, 2015) Experts are gathering in Botswana to try to end the illegal wildlife trade that is decimating populations of elephants, rhinos and other threatened species. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Elephants Help Keep 18-Wheeler From Toppling Over

Elephants Help Keep 18-Wheeler From Toppling Over

Newsy (Mar. 25, 2015) The Natchitoches Parish Sheriff&apos;s Office discovered two elephants keeping a tractor-trailer that had gotten stuck in some mud upright on a highway. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baby 'pet' Orangutan Rescued from Chicken Cage Takes First Steps

Baby 'pet' Orangutan Rescued from Chicken Cage Takes First Steps

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Mar. 25, 2015) Buti, a baby orangutan who was left malnourished in a chicken cage before his rescue, takes his first steps after months of painful physical therapy. Mana Rabiee reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins