• river dolphins;
  • cytochrome-b gene;
  • molecular phylogeny


1,140 bp of the complete mitochondrial cytochrome-b gene sequences of baiji (Lipotes vexillifer), franciscana (Pontoporia blainvillei), and Ganges river dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica) were determined to address the systematic position and phylogeny of extant river dolphins with combination of homologous sequences of other cetaceans. The neighbor-joining (NJ), maximum parsimony (MP), and maximum likelihood (ML) phylogenetic analyses all identified the river dolphins into three lineages, i. e., Platanista, Lipotes, and Inia+Pontoporia. The Lipotes did not have sister relationship with either Platanista or Inia+Pontoporia, which strongly supported the referral of Lipotes to a separate family, i. e., Lipotidae. There were very high sequence divergences between all river dolphin genera, suggesting a relatively longer period of separation time than those among other odontocete families.