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A Reexamination of the Phylogenetic Position of Callimico (Primates) Incorporating New Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Data


The New World monkeys are divided into two main groups, Callitrichidae and Cebidae. Callimico goeldii shares traits with both the Cebidae and the Callitrichidae. Recent morphological phyletic studies generally place Callimico as the most basal member of the Callitrichidae. In contrast, genetic studies (immunological, restriction fragment, and sequence data) have consistently placed Callimico somewhere within the Callitrichidae, not basal to this clade. A DNA sequence data set from the terminal 236 codons of the mitochondrial ND4 gene and the tRNAHis, tRNASer, and tRNALeu genes was generated to clarify the position of Callimico. The sequences of 887 base pairs were analyzed by maximum-parsimony, neighbor-joining, and maximum-likelihood methods. The results of these various methods are generally congruent and place Callimico within the Callitrichidae between the marmosets (Callithrix and Cebuella) and the tamarins (Saguinus and Leontopithecus). Combined analyses of all suitable nuclear and mitochondrial gene sequences confirm the position of Callimico between the marmosets and the tamarins. As available molecular evidence indicates that Callimico is more closely related to the marmosets than to the tamarins, a reconsideration of the morphological evidence in light of the consensus tree from DNA sequence analyses is warranted. The marmosets and tamarins share four morphological characters (loss of the third molar, loss of the hypocone, reduced body size, reproductive twinning). Dwarfism may have evolved repeatedly among the Callitrichidae. It is well-known that the loss of a character can occur many times independently. The reproduction of marmosets and tamarins is extremely specialized and it is difficult to imagine that this complex and unique twinning system evolved separately in marmosets and tamarins. However, it is possible that a secondary reversal to single offspring took place in Callimico.

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Received: 20 March 1997 / Accepted: 17 December 1997

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Pastorini, J., Forstner, M., Martin, R. et al. A Reexamination of the Phylogenetic Position of Callimico (Primates) Incorporating New Mitochondrial DNA Sequence Data. J Mol Evol 47, 32–41 (1998).

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