|An adult male greater kudu by the Chobe River, Botswana|
Tragelaphus is a genus of medium- to large-sized spiral-horned antelopes. It contains several species of bovine, all of which are relatively antelope-like. Species in this genus tend to be large sized, lightly built, have long necks and considerable sexual dimorphism. Elands, including the common eland (Taurotragus oryx), are embedded within this genus meaning that Taurotragus must be subsumed into Tragelaphus to avoid paraphyly. Alternatively, Taurotragus could be maintained as a separate genus, if the nyala and the lesser kudu are relocated to their own monospecific genera: respectively, Nyala and Ammelaphus. Other generic synonyms include Strepsiceros (which applies to T. strepsiceros) and Boocercus (for T. eurycerus). The name "Tragelaphus" comes from the mythical tragelaph.
|Phylogenetic relationships in Tragelaphus from combined analysis of all molecular data (Willows-Munro et.al. 2005)|
Tragelaphus is a genus in the tribe Tragelaphini and the family Bovidae. The genus authority is the French zoologist Henri Marie Ducrotay de Blainville, who first mentioned it in the journal Bulletin des Sciences, par la Société Philomatique in 1816. The name is composed of two Greek words: tragos, meaning a male goat; and elaphos, meaning deer. It is generally treated as eight species, namely:
An alternative classification, supported by genetic data, would recognise 11 species in five groups which could be treated as subgenera or full genera: (i) Nyala for T. angasii; (ii) Ammelaphus for T. imberbis; (iii) Taurotragus for the two elands (T. oryx and T. derbianus); (iv) Strepsiceros for T. strepsiceros and (v) Tragelaphus restricted to T. buxtoni, T. spekei, T. scriptus, T. sylvaticus (Imbabala - separated from a polyphyletic T. scriptus) and T. eurycerus. In terms of divergence time estimates, a 2006 study showed that core Tragelaphus (now known to excude T. angasii and T. imberbis) diverged from Taurotragus (elands) towards the end of the Late Miocene.
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