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An investigation of the cranial evolution of Asian pitvipers (Serpentes: Crotalinae), with comments on the phylogenetic position of Peltopelor macrolepis

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Abstract:

Abstract

Guo, P., Jadin, R.C., Malhotra, A. and Li, C. 2009. An investigation of the cranial evolution of Asian pitvipers (Serpentes: Crotalinae), with comments on the phylogenetic position of Peltopelor macrolepisActa Zoologica (Stockholm) 91: 402–407.

We investigated the evolution of 12 cranial characters of 31 species of Asian pitvipers by examining the character state changes on a consensus tree modified from broadly consistent molecular results. We found that these characters appear stable with only one intraspecific polymorphism. Nine of the 12 characters form useful synapomorphies, whereas three are ambiguous and evolutionarily plastic. Clades that are supported with numerous apomorphies are the Trimeresurus group [consisting of the recently defined genera Trimeresurus sensu Malhotra and Thorpe (2004), Parias, Popeia, Viridovipera, Himalayophis, and Cryptelytrops] and the genera Protobothrops, Parias, and Viridovipera. Two species previously considered as congeners but now known to be distantly related, Ovophis monticola and ‘Ovophisokinavensis, have nearly identical character states, demonstrating substantial convergence in cranial characters. Finally, we attempt to infer the phylogenetic position of Peltopelor macrolepis by comparing its cranial features with that of other pitvipers.

Keywords: Protobothrops; Trimeresurus; apomorphies; morphology; osteology

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1463-6395.2009.00413.x

Affiliations: 1: Department of Life Sciences and Food Engineering, Yibin University, Sichuan 644000, China 2: Amphibian and Reptile Diversity Research Center, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX 76019, USA 3: School of Biological Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, Bangor University, Gwynedd LL57 2UW, UK

Publication date: 2010-10-01

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