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Explosive radiation of Cape Verde Conus, a marine species flock



    Corresponding author
    1. Naos Marine Laboratory, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Apartado 2072, Balboa Ancon, Republic of Panamá,
    2. Department of Biology, University of Washington, Seattle WA 98195, USA,
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    1. Museo de Historia Natural, Campus Universitario Sur, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
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Thomas F. Duda, Jr., Tel. 734-764-2358; E-mail:


Nearly 50 species of the marine gastropod genus Conus are restricted to the Cape Verde archipelago. This unusual concentration of endemics within a single set of oceanic islands is extremely uncharacteristic of marine taxa. Here we used phylogenetic analyses of 90 Conus species, including 30 endemics from Cape Verde, to reveal the relationships and origins of the endemic Cape Verde Conus. Results show that these species group in two distinct clades and represent a marine species flock that is restricted to a very narrowly confined geographical area. Species’ originations occurred in exceptionally limited parts of the archipelago and in some cases radiations took place solely within single islands. Finally, comparison of levels of divergence between Cape Verde endemics and other Conus species suggests that the radiation of Conus in Cape Verde occurred during the last few million years.