The extant crocodylians comprise 23 species divided among three families, Alligatoridae, Crocodylidae, and Gavialidae. Currently, based on morphological data sets, Tomistoma schlegelii (false gharial) is placed within the family Crocodylidae. Molecular data sets consistently support a sister-taxon relationship of T. schlegelii with Gavialis gangeticus (Indian Gharial), which is the sole species in Gavialidae. To elucidate the placement of T. schlegelii within the extant crocodylians, we have sequenced 352 bp of the dentin matrix protein 1 (DMP1) nuclear gene in 30 individuals and 424 bp of the nuclear gene C-mos in 74 individuals. Molecular analysis of the DMP1 data set indicates that it is highly conserved within the Crocodylia. Of special note is a seven base-pair indel (GTGCTTT) shared by T. schlegelii and G. gangeticus, that is absent in the genus Crocodylus, Osteolaemus, and Mecistops. To date, C-mos is the largest molecular data set analyzed for any crocodylian study including multiple samples from all representatives of the eight extant genera. Analysis of these molecular data sets, both as individual gene sequences and concatenated sequences, support the hypothesis that T. schlegelii should be placed within the family Gavialidae.
- Gavialis gangeticus
- Tomistoma schlegelii