Molecular evidence and marine snake origins

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A molecular phylogeny was used to refute the marine scenario for snake origins. Nuclear gene sequences suggested that snakes are not closely related to living varanid lizards, thus also apparently contradicting proposed relationships between snakes and marine mosasaurs (usually considered to be varanoids). However, mosasaurs share derived similarities with both snakes and living varanids. A reanalysis of the morphological data suggests that, if the relationships between living taxa are constrained to the proposed molecular tree, with fossil forms allowed to insert in their optimal positions within this framework, mosasaurs cluster with snakes rather than with varanids. Combined morphological and molecular analyses also still unite marine lizards with snakes. Thus, the molecular data do not refute the phylogenetic evidence for a marine origin of snakes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-230
Number of pages4
JournalBiology Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes


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