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.

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 August 30, 2014 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 August 30, 2014).

Share This




More Plants & Animals News

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

Killer Amoeba Found in Louisiana Water System

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) State health officials say testing has confirmed the presence of a killer amoeba in a water system serving three St. John the Baptist Parish towns. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

Raw: Australian Sheep Gets Long Overdue Haircut

AP (Aug. 28, 2014) Hoping to break the record for world's wooliest, Shaun the sheep came up 10 pounds shy with his fleece weighing over 50 pounds after being shorn for the first time in years. (Aug. 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Minds Blown: Scientists Develop Fish That Walk On Land

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) Canadian scientists looking into the very first land animals took a fish out of water and forced it to walk. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Huge Ancient Wine Cellar Found In Israel

Newsy (Aug. 28, 2014) An international team uncovered a large ancient wine celler that likely belonged to a Cannonite ruler. Video provided by Newsy
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:
from the past week

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