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, 429 (6992), 649-51

Mesozoic Origin for West Indian Insectivores

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Mesozoic Origin for West Indian Insectivores

Alfred L Roca et al. Nature.

Abstract

The highly endangered solenodons, endemic to Cuba (Solenodon cubanus) and Hispaniola (S. paradoxus), comprise the only two surviving species of West Indian insectivores. Combined gene sequences (13.9 kilobases) from S. paradoxus established that solenodons diverged from other eulipotyphlan insectivores 76 million years ago in the Cretaceous period, which is consistent with vicariance, though also compatible with dispersal. A sequence of 1.6 kilobases of mitochondrial DNA from S. cubanus indicated a deep divergence of 25 million years versus the congeneric S. paradoxus, which is consistent with vicariant origins as tectonic forces separated Cuba and Hispaniola. Efforts to prevent extinction of the two surviving solenodon species would conserve an entire lineage as old or older than many mammalian orders.

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