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A thirteen-million-year divergence between two lineages of Indonesian coelacanths

Abstract : Coelacanth fishes of the genus Latimeria are the only surviving representatives of a basal lineage of vertebrates that originated more than 400 million years ago. Yet, much remains to be unveiled about the diversity and evolutionary history of these 'living fossils' using new molecular data, including the possibility of 'cryptic' species or unknown lineages. Here, we report the discovery of a new specimen in eastern Indonesia allegedly belonging to the species L. menadoensis. Although this specimen was found about 750 km from the known geographical distribution of the species, we found that the molecular divergence between this specimen and others of L. menadoensis was great: 1.8% compared to 0.04% among individuals of L. chalumnae, the other living species of coelacanth. Molecular dating analyses suggested a divergence date of ca. 13 million years ago between the two populations of Indonesian coelacanths. We elaborate a biogeographical scenario to explain the observed genetic divergence of Indonesian coelacanth populations based on oceanic currents and the tectonic history of the region over Miocene to recent. We hypothesize that several populations of coelacanths are likely to live further east of the present capture location, with potentially a new species that remains to be described. Based on this, we call for an international effort to take appropriate measures to protect these fascinating but vulnerable vertebrates which represent among the longest branches on the Tree of Life.
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https://hal.ird.fr/ird-02438220
Contributor : Emmanuel Paradis <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, January 14, 2020 - 10:30:04 AM
Last modification on : Tuesday, February 11, 2020 - 10:10:14 AM

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Kadar Kadarusman, Hagi Yulia Sugeha, Laurent Pouyaud, Régis Hocdé, Intanurfemi Hismayasari, et al.. A thirteen-million-year divergence between two lineages of Indonesian coelacanths. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2020, 10 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-57042-1⟩. ⟨ird-02438220⟩

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