Cryptic Species Discussion

Dr. G. Koehler gkoehler at SNG.UNI-FRANKFURT.DE
Thu Oct 21 12:08:55 CDT 1999

Dear colleagues,
through the courtesy of Jean Michel Maez, I received part of your
discussion on the "cryptic species" matter. I would definitely
prefer the term "cryptic species" over "sibling species" following the
arguments presented in 1969 by Dr. Hobart M. Smith ( Proposed
correlation of eurytopy and cryptic speciation. - The Biologist 51
(3): 100-102) that "sibling species" implies close relationship or
even "a sort of brother-sister relationship and origin which usually
is not known ..." (Smith 1969: 100).

At our department we have recently discovered that two species of
Central American anoles (Reptila: Sauria) have been hiding under one
name (Anolis cupreus) in the literature for the past decades. These
two species are so different in hemipenis morphology (hemipenis
surface covered with calyces versus covered with numerous spines) that
judging from this observation, these two species (cupreus and
macrophallus) may not even be closely related. However, externally
both species are extremely similar and we could not demonstrate a
single morphometric or pholidotic character that would be useful to
differentiate between the two species. Thus, these are typical
"cryptic species".

My main interest would be the understanding of origin and evolution of
these superficially so similar species. What are the mechanisms? I am
looking forward to reading some opinions on these matters. Sincerely,
Gunther Koehler

Dr. Gunther Koehler
Curator of Herpetology
Forschungsinstitut und Naturmuseum Senckenberg
Sektion Herpetologie
Senckenberganlage 25
D-60325 Frankfurt a.M.
Fax: ++49-69-746238
Tel: ++49-69-7542-232
e-mail: gkoehler at

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