Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Where is the Toddycat!?

The evolutionary relationships among Asian palm civets were recently reconstructed using DNA sequences of four genes.

Patou, M.L., Debruyne, R., Jennings, A.P., Zubaid, A., Rovie-Ryan, J.J., Veron, G., 2008. Phylogenetic relationships of the Asian palm civets (Hemigalinae & Paradoxurinae, Viverridae, Carnivora). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 47, 883-892.

Here is the trimmed down tree to show where the palm civet that inhabits Singapore and the logo of RMBR stands phylogenetically.

It is in fact most closely related (in this sampling) to the brown palm civet that is endemic to Western Ghats... And has the binturong and masked palm civet (implicated in SARS) at the base of the lineage.

The study also shows some interesting stuff:

(i) the Asian palm civets (Hemigalinae + Paradoxurinae) have a single origin, in other words monophyletic, the gold standard in systematics
(ii) Paradoxurinae, containing the Toddycat, is also monophyletic
(iii) the Asian palm civets (Hemigalinae + Paradoxurinae) apparently diverged from the rest of the Viverridae family in the Late Oligocene/Early Miocene (~20-25 million years ago)
(iv) the Toddycat, as a species, is probably between 5-10 million years old, one of the younger ones in this group of mammals.

No comments: