Studies on the molecular evolution of the crocodylia: Footprints in the sands of time

Herbert C. Dessauer, Travis C. Glenn, Llewellyn D. Densmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


A reasonably large number of studies focusing on the molecular evolution of crocodilians have been completed during the past 100 years. Proteins were initially studied before DNA was known to carry the genetic information of cells and organisms, and were subsequently studied to infer changes at the DNA level. More recently, studies on the DNA itself have been completed. We have had the pleasure of taking part in or facilitating many studies conducted over the past 50 years, especially several of the earliest studies done using newly developed molecular techniques. We provide a review of the molecular genetic studies on crocodilians, summarizing the findings of these studies as well as the context in which they were undertaken. This review is a personal look at the history of molecular studies on the evolutionary biology of crocodilians. Our excuse for this focus is that our professors, our students and we have had the opportunity to be among the first to apply many new techniques to studies of crocodilians since 1950, when one of us (HCD) was a graduate student of Roland Coulson and Tom Hernandez. Although we will review much of the material in this subject area, we do not claim that it is complete. Instead, we focus our presentation on work in which we have participated or with which we are particularly familiar. We especially focus on materials relevant to the research presented at the 2nd International Crocodilian DNA Workshop, 7-9 November, 2001, at the San Diego Zoo. Thus, the following review also stands as a tribute to our mentors, students, and colleagues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)302-311
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 15 2002


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