The evolution of the adult body form of the crested newt (Triturus cristatus superspecies, Caudata, Salamandridae)
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We characterized the adult body form of the crested newt (Triturus cristatus superspecies) and explored its evolution. From seven morphometric traits, we determined that body size, interlimb distance and head width define the body form. None of the morphometric traits showed a phylogenetic signal. Three body-shape morphotypes (Triturus dobrogicus + T. cristatus, Triturus carnifex + Triturus macedonicus and Triturus karelinii + Triturus arntzeni) and three body-size morphotypes (T. dobrogicus, T. cristatus and all other crested newts) could be recognized. The ancestral phenotype (a large body with a short trunk and a wide head) characterized T. karelinii and T. arntzeni. Triturus carnifex and T. macedonicus had a somewhat different phenotype (large body and wide head, accompanied by mild body elongation). The most derived phenotype included body size reduction and more pronounced body elongation in T. cristatus and, especially, in T. dobrogicus. Body elongation occurred by trunk lengthening but not head and tail lengthening. Additionally, contrary to other tetrapods, evolutionary axis elongation in crested newts was followed by a decrease in body size. We advocate the hypothesis that ecology drives the evolution of body form in crested newts.