Two distinct new species of the ant genus Crematogaster, C. khmerensis sp. nov. and C. pfeifferi sp. nov., are described from Cambodia and Malaysia, respectively. The two species are unique among Asian Crematogaster in that they have vertically directed propodeal spines, but their systematic positions have not been determined based on morphological characters alone. Molecular phylogenetic analysis of 89 Crematogaster taxon matrices previously published plus C. khmerensis sp. nov., using nuclear genes, reveals that C. khmerensis sp. nov. is nested within the Australo-Asian Crematogaster clade. Morphological assignment of the developed pronotal shoulders implies a close relationship between C. khmerensis sp. nov. and the C. tetracantha-group. Based on molecular and morphological evidence, we erect a new species group, C. khmerensis-group, to contain C. khmerensis sp. nov. and C. pfeifferi sp. nov. Divergence time estimates using MCMCTree shows that the root node of the C. khmerensis sp. nov. terminal is estimated to be of middle Miocene age at 15 million years old. The position of the C. khmerensis-group well supports the Oriental- to Australian-region dispersal history that has been proposed for the Australo-Asian Crematogaster clade.
Biogeography, divergence time estimation, morphological assignment, nuclear genes, phylogenetic position.