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Degree Name

MS (Master of Science)

Program

Biology

Date of Award

12-2009

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Blaine W. Schubert

Committee Members

James I. Mead, James R. Stewart, Steven C. Wallace

Abstract

Alligator mississippiensis is only distantly related to the other extant alligator (A. sinensis), with much closer relatives known from the geologic past of North America. While A. mississippiensis is well known from the early Pleistocene and later, no Alligator was known from the middle and late Pliocene until the discovery of Haile 7C and 7G late Pliocene (~2 Ma) sites from Florida. These specimens were analyzed using a diagnostic character matrix along with systematic analyses of the results. This research upholds A. mefferdi as a valid taxon, and the utility of the species in fossil identification is further established. The Haile material cannot be placed within either of the aforementioned taxa, and a new species description is planned in a later publication. Furthermore, the systematic analysis used in this research suggests that the line leading to A. sinensis diverged before the earliest known Alligator. An Eocene dispersal of the genus into Asia is plausible.

Document Type

Thesis - Campus Only

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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