The Phylogenetic Position of the Recently Rediscovered Philippine Forest Turtle (Bataguridae: Heosemys leytensis )

  • Diesmos A
  • Parham J
  • Stuart B
 et al. 
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The Philippine forest turtle (Heosemys leytensis) is one of the least-known Asian tur- tles. Until recently it was only known from a single specimen, the neotype (CAS 60930). The rediscovery of this enigmatic turtle in the wild provides access to fresh genetic material, allowing us to rigorously test its phylogenetic position among Asian pond and wood turtles of the clade Bataguridae for the first time. We sequenced 1174 bp of mitochondrial DNA (cytb) and 1076 bp of nuclear DNA (R35 intron) from a newly acquired specimen of H. leytensis (PNM 8488) and compared our sequences to a previously published genetic survey of batagurids. Our main goal is to determine if H. leytensis is closely related to other species of Heosemys (H. spinosa type species, H. grandis, H. depressa, and H. annandalii comb. nov.). Parsimony and likelihood analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA data strongly support H. leytensis as the sister taxon to the Southeast Asian species Siebenrockiella crassicollis (commonly known as the black marsh turtle or smiling terrapin). The close rela- tionship between H. leytensis and S. crassicollis is a novel hypothesis, although both share an easily recognizable diagnostic feature: vertebrals 24 are mushroom- shaped or ginkgo leaf-shaped. In order to eliminate two potentially monotypic gen- era, the genus Siebenrockiella is phylogenetically defined to accommodate the close relationship between S. crassicolis and H. leytensis whereas a new name, Panyaenemys, is defined for the distinct H. leytensis stem lineage.

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  • Arvin C. Diesmos

  • James F Parham

  • Bryan L Stuart

  • Rafe M. Brown

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