Genealogy of scaly reptiles is rewritten

Nov 23, 2005

Penn State scientists have completed the most comprehensive analysis ever of genetic relationships among snakes, lizards, and other scaly reptiles.

The study has resulted in a radical reorganization of the family tree of the animals, requiring new names for many of the tree's new branches.

S. Blair Hedges, professor of biology, and Nicolas Vidal, a postdoctoral fellow in Hedges' research group who now is a curator at the National Museum in Paris, analyzed the largest genetic data set ever assembled for scaly reptiles, known as squamates.

"The overwhelming molecular-genetic evidence shows the primitive-looking iguanian lizards are close relatives of ... snakes on the one hand and the monitor lizards and their relatives on the other," Vidal said.

"We gave this group the new name, 'Toxicofera' because of another discovery, reported in a related paper, that some lizard species thought to be harmless actually produce toxic venom," he said. That study is reported in the current issue of the journal Nature.

Vidal's and Hedges' study appears in the current issue of the journal C. R. Biologies.

Copyright 2005 by United Press International

Explore further: Physicists create tool to foresee language destruction impact and thus prevent it

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

New horned lizard species found in southern Mexico

May 15, 2014

An article published in the current issue of the journal Herpetologica describes a new horned lizard species that lives in Mexico. Body size, tail length, and scale texture and layout distinguish this new species, which ...

The reptile database

Jan 09, 2014

Experts predict that 2014 will be a big year for reptiles. Reptiles, which include snakes, lizards, turtles, crocodiles, tuataras and amphisbaenians, are projected to become the most diverse vertebrate group ...

First freshwater mosasaur discovered

Dec 19, 2012

A new mosasaur species discovered in Hungary is the first known example of this group of scaled reptiles to have lived in freshwater river environments similar to modern freshwater dolphins, according to ...

Komodo dragon has 'pussycat' bite but plenty of punch

Oct 21, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The world’s largest lizard – the Komodo Dragon – has an astonishingly weak bite, but a new study has revealed that the key to its killing power is a lethal combination of poison, ...

Recommended for you

Affirmative action elicits bias in pro-equality Caucasians

12 hours ago

New research from Simon Fraser University's Beedie School of Business indicates that bias towards the effects of affirmative action exists in not only people opposed to it, but also in those who strongly endorse equality.

Narcissistic CEOs and financial performance

Jul 24, 2014

Narcissism, considered by some as the "dark side of the executive personality," may actually be a good thing when it comes to certain financial measures, with companies led by narcissistic CEOs outperforming those helmed ...

Election surprises tend to erode trust in government

Jul 24, 2014

When asked who is going to win an election, people tend to predict their own candidate will come out on top. When that doesn't happen, according to a new study from the University of Georgia, these "surprised losers" often ...

User comments : 0