Single origin of Malagasy Carnivora from an African ancestor.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

The Carnivora are one of only four orders of terrestrial mammals living in Madagascar today. All four (carnivorans, primates, rodents and lipotyphlan insectivores) are placental mammals with limited means for dispersal, yet they occur on a large island that has been surrounded by a formidable oceanic barrier for at least 88 million years, predating the age of origin for any of these groups. Even so, as many as four colonizations of Madagascar have been proposed for the Carnivora alone. The mystery of the island's mammalian origins is confounded by its poor Tertiary fossil record, which leaves us with no direct means for estimating dates of initial diversification. Here we use a multi-gene phylogenetic analysis to show that Malagasy carnivorans are monophyletic and thus the product of a single colonization of Madagascar by an African ancestor. Furthermore, a bayesian analysis of divergence ages for Malagasy carnivorans and lemuriforms indicates that their respective colonizations were temporally separated by tens of millions of years. We therefore conclude that a single event, such as vicariance or common dispersal, cannot explain the presence of both groups in Madagascar.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Yoder, AD; Burns, MM; Zehr, S; Delefosse, T; Veron, G; Goodman, SM; Flynn, JJ

Published Date

  • February 2003

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 421 / 6924

Start / End Page

  • 734 - 737

PubMed ID

  • 12610623

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1476-4687

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0028-0836

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1038/nature01303


  • eng