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The guinea-pig is not a rodent


IN 1991 Graur et al. raised the question of whether the guinea-pig, Cavia porcellus, is a rodent1. They suggested that the guinea-pig and myomorph rodents diverged before the separation between myomorph rodents and a lineage leading to primates and artiodactyls. Several findings have since been reported, both for and against this phylogeny, thereby highlighting the issue of the validity of molecular analysis in mammalian phylogeny. Here we present findings based on the sequence of the complete mitochondrial genome of the guinea-pig, which strongly contradict rodent monophyly. The conclusions are based on the cumulative evidence provided by orthologically inherited genes and the use of three different analytical methods, none of which joins the guinea-pig with myomorph rodents. In addition to the phylogenetic conclusions, we also draw attention to several factors that are important for the validity of phylogenetic analysis based on molecular data.

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D'Erchia, A., Gissi, C., Pesole, G. et al. The guinea-pig is not a rodent. Nature 381, 597–600 (1996).

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