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Hemipenial morphology of microteiid lizards and their implications on phylogenetic relationships of the family Gymnophtalmidae (Squamata: Teiioidea)

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Pedro Murilo Sales Nunes
Total Authors: 1
Document type: Doctoral Thesis
Press: São Paulo.
Institution: Universidade de São Paulo (USP). Instituto de Biociências (IBIOC/SB)
Defense date:
Examining board members:
Miguel Trefaut Urbano Rodrigues; Marcelo Rodrigues de Carvalho; Ana Lúcia da Costa Prudente; Mônica de Toledo Piza Ragazzo
Advisor: Miguel Trefaut Urbano Rodrigues

The family Gymnophthalmidae comprises more than 220 species of small and medium-size lizards, allocated in 48 genera that occur from southern Mexico to Argentina, as well as in the West Indies and other islands in Central and South America. The monophyly of gymnophthalmids is presently supported by morphological and molecular characters; moreover, its sister-group relationship to the family Teiidae is also well established, comprising a larger clade taxonomically recognized as the superfamily Teiioidea. Despite recent advances in the systematics of the Gymnophtalmidae, several questions regarding the taxonomic recognition of some genera, tribes and subfamilies within the family demand further investigation. In such a context, hemipenial morphology may help to clarify punctual and controversial aspects of the relationships among the gymnophthalmids. For more than a century, hemipenial morphology has been widely used in squamates systematics, especially with respect to snakes. Among lizards, the Gymnophthalmidae appears as one of the groups in which hemipenes are reasonably explored in the literature, but most data are restricted to punctual descriptions and were never assessed under a comprehensive phylogenetic background. Herein, we examined the hemipenes of 395 specimens of 145 gymnopthalmid species representing 47 of the 48 genera presently recognized in the family (the monotypic and recently described genus Marinussaurus is the only genus missing in our sample). The organs were described in detail and compared among the members of the family, as well as with some representatives of Teiidae, which represents the outgroup of Gymnophthalmidae in studies of explicit phylogenetic inference. Such an approach not only allowed us to discuss the phylogenetic assumptions and taxonomic systems available to date, but also provided new clues regarding the relationships of some gymnophthalmid terminals that may be informative in order to improve resolution of the systematics of the group in the future. (AU)

FAPESP's process: 07/00811-8 - Hemipenial morphology of microteiid lizards and their implications on phylogenetic relationships of the Gymnophtalmidae family
Grantee:Pedro Murilo Sales Nunes
Support type: Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate