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Cretaceous–Tertiary diversification among select Scolopendrid centipedes of South India

Joshi, Jahnavi, Karanth, K. Praveen
Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 2011 v.60 no.3 pp. 287-294
Scolopendra, monophyly, India
Given that peninsular India was part of the Gondwanan super continent, part of its current biota has Gondwanan origin. To determine the Gondwanan component of the peninsular Indian biota, a large number of species spanning diverse taxonomic groups need to be sampled from multiple, if not all, of the former Gondwanan fragments. Such a large scale phylogenetic approach will be time consuming and resource intensive. Here, we explore the utility of a limited sampling approach, wherein sampling is confined to one of the Gondwanan fragments (peninsular India), in identifying putative Gondwanan elements. To this end, samples of Scolopendrid centipedes from Western Ghats region of peninsular India were subjected to molecular phylogenetic and dating analyses. The resulting phylogenetic tree supported monophyly of the family Scolopendridae which was in turn split into two clades constituting tribes Otostigmini and Scolopendrini–Asanadini. Bayesian divergence date estimates suggested that the earliest diversifications within various genera were between 86 and 73mya, indicating that these genera might have Gondwanan origin. In particular, at least four genera of Scolopendrid centipedes, Scolopendra, Cormocephalus, Rhysida and Digitipes, might have undergone diversification on the drifting peninsular India during the Late Cretaceous. These putative Gondwanan taxa can be subjected to more extensive sampling to confirm their Gondwanan origin.