Project 1108: M. D. R. Castañeda, E. Sherratt, J. B. Losos. 2014. The Mexican amber anole, Anolis electrum, within a phylogenetic context: implications for the origins of Caribbean anoles. Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 172 (1):133–144.
Specimen: † Anolis electrum (UCMP/Vertebrates:68496)


Anoles are well known examples of adaptive radiation and convergent evolution. Their phylogenetic relationships have been intensely studied, but their fossil record remains fairly poor, limiting understanding of their evolutionary history. We present new data on Anolis electrum, the first discovered fossil anole and sole vertebrate described from Mexican amber, using x-ray Computed Tomography. We inferred the phylogenetic relationships of A. electrum and comment on its use in estimating the age of Anolis origins, which has significant relevance in explaining the presence of anoles on Caribbean islands. Anolis electrum is represented by two pieces of amber containing parts of the same individual. Partial squamation and skeleton details are well preserved, though only ten characters commonly used in phylogenetic analyses could be scored. The lack of informative characters resulted in A. electrum being inferred in 14 different places within four recognized subclades: Dactyloa, cristatellus series, darlingtoni series, and Norops, one of which corresponds to previously suggested close relationships. Results fail to support a suggested age estimation of 130 Myr for Anolis; consequently, the hypothesis of overwater dispersal as the explanation for the occurrence of anoles in Caribbean islands remains the most robust hypothesis.

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Article DOI: 10.1111/zoj.12159

Project DOI: 10.7934/P1108,
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    Authors' Institutions

    • Harvard University


    member name taxa specimens media
    Emma Sherratt
    Project Administrator
    Last logged in 01/13/14
    Maureen Admin
    Full membership
    Last logged in 01/17/20
    María del Rosario Castaneda
    Full membership
    Last logged in 01/08/14
    MorphoBank Curator
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    Last logged in 05/05/15

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