|DNA-DNA hybridizations support ungulate ancestry of Cetacea|In: Journal of Evolutionary Biology. European Society for Evolutionary Biology (ESEB): Basel. ISSN 1010-061X, more
Cetaceans' origin; DNA hybridization; between-order phylogenetic relationships
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Recent morphological data on Pakicetus spp. and Basilosaurus spp. fossils suggest that cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) originate from carnivorous Mesonychid land mammals (Condylarthra) and made a gradual transition from land to sea in early Eocene (Gingerich et al. 1983; 1990). On the other hand, there is convincing evidence that Artiodactyla and Perissodactyla have evolved from Condylarthra (Van Valen 1978, Carrol 1988). Therefore, the Pakicetus and Basilosaurus data suggest a close genetic relationship between cetaceans and ungulates. An approach based on molecular genetics was used in this study to test the morphological hypothesis. Liver samples of two Delphinoidea species were obtained from animals caught in a Peruvian gillnet fishery. 32P- or 35S-labeled single copy nuclear genomes (scn-DNA) of the two cetacean species were hybridized each with unlabeled total DNA of various cetaceans, ungulates and other mammals including primates, rodents, lagomorphs and carnivores. The Tmedian (Tm) and Tmode of all melting curves, used as a measure of the DNA-DNA hybrids stability, clearly show a greater sequence similarity — and thus a lower genetic distance — between cetaceans and ungulates than between cetaceans and other mammals.