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A molecular phylogeny of the eastern group of ocellated lizard genus Timon (Sauria: Lacertidae) based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences

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Timon, a small genus of lacertid lizards, includes four species distributed in two separate ranges in the western and eastern part of the Mediterranean Basin. Phylogenetic relationships between the two groups have not been resolved, and the taxonomic situation of the two subspecies of the eastern representative of the genus, Timon princeps, is not clear. To address these questions, partial DNA sequences of two nuclear (β-fibrinogen intron 7 and C-mos) and three mitochondrial (cytochrome b, 12S rRNA and 16S rRNA) genes were analyzed. Based on the high genetic distance between the two subspecies of T. princeps we promote their taxonomic status to full species, Timon princeps and Timon kurdistanicus. Divergence time estimates based on other lacertid species suggest that the separation of the green (Lacerta) and ocellated (Timon) lizards took place around 12 My ago, and that the Eastern group underwent speciation around 4-5 my ago, perhaps associated with the uplifting of the Zagros mountains. As expected given this ancient divergence and complex paleogeography, considerable levels of genetic diversity are recovered within both taxa, with geographically close individuals showing very divergent haplotypes.

Affiliations: 1: 2Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, Adenauerallee 160, 53113 Bonn, Germany ; 2: 1Department of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Management, Environmental Sciences Research Institute, Shahid Beheshti University, G.C., Evin, Tehran, Iran ; 3: 3CIBIO, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade do Porto, Campus Agrário de Vairão, 4485-661 Vairão, Portugal

*Corresponding author; e-mail address:

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