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      Three-dimensional reconstruction and the phylogeny of extinct chelicerate orders

      1 , , 2
      PeerJ Inc.
      Arachnida, Tomography, Chelicerata, Phylogeny, Palaeozoic, Fossil, Phalangiotarbida, Haptopoda

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          Arachnids are an important group of arthropods. They are: diverse and abundant; a major constituent of many terrestrial ecosystems; and possess a deep and extensive fossil record. In recent years a number of exceptionally preserved arachnid fossils have been investigated using tomography and associated techniques, providing valuable insights into their morphology. Here we use X-ray microtomography to reconstruct members of two extinct arachnid orders. In the Haptopoda, we demonstrate the presence of ‘clasp-knife’ chelicerae, and our novel redescription of a member of the Phalangiotarbida highlights leg details, but fails to resolve chelicerae in the group due to their small size. As a result of these reconstructions, tomographic studies of three-dimensionally preserved fossils now exist for three of the four extinct orders, and for fossil representatives of several extant ones. Such studies constitute a valuable source of high fidelity data for constructing phylogenies. To illustrate this, here we present a cladistic analysis of the chelicerates to accompany these reconstructions. This is based on a previously published matrix, expanded to include fossil taxa and relevant characters, and allows us to: cladistically place the extinct arachnid orders; explicitly test some earlier hypotheses from the literature; and demonstrate that the addition of fossils to phylogenetic analyses can have broad implications. Phylogenies based on chelicerate morphology—in contrast to molecular studies—have achieved elements of consensus in recent years. Our work suggests that these results are not robust to the addition of novel characters or fossil taxa. Hypotheses surrounding chelicerate phylogeny remain in a state of flux.

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          Molecular timetrees reveal a Cambrian colonization of land and a new scenario for ecdysozoan evolution.

          Ecdysozoans have been key components of ecosystems since the early Cambrian, when trilobites and soft-bodied Burgess Shale-type ecdysozoans dominated marine animal communities. Even today, the most abundant animals on Earth are either nematode worms or plankton-forming crustaceans, whereas the most diverse are the insects. Throughout geological time, several ecdysozoan lineages independently colonized land, shaping both marine and terrestrial ecosystems and providing an adequate environment for successive animal terrestrialization. The timing of these events is largely uncertain and has been investigated only partially using molecular data. Here we present a timescale of ecdysozoan evolution based on multiple molecular data sets, the most complete set of fossil calibrations to date, and a thorough series of validation analyses. Results converge on an Ediacaran origin of all major ecdysozoan lineages (∼587-543 million years ago [mya]), followed by a fast Cambrian radiation of the pancrustaceans (∼539-511 mya), a Cambro-Ordovician colonization of land of different arthropod lineages (∼510-471 mya), and a relatively recent radiation of extant nematodes, onychophorans, and tardigrades (∼442 mya). Arthropods colonized land nearly synchronously with land plants. Further diversification within flying insects, nematodes and onychophorans might be related to the evolution of vascular plants and forests. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
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            Arthropod fossil data increase congruence of morphological and molecular phylogenies.

            The relationships of major arthropod clades have long been contentious, but refinements in molecular phylogenetics underpin an emerging consensus. Nevertheless, molecular phylogenies have recovered topologies that morphological phylogenies have not, including the placement of hexapods within a paraphyletic Crustacea, and an alliance between myriapods and chelicerates. Here we show enhanced congruence between molecular and morphological phylogenies based on 753 morphological characters for 309 fossil and Recent panarthropods. We resolve hexapods within Crustacea, with remipedes as their closest extant relatives, and show that the traditionally close relationship between myriapods and hexapods is an artefact of convergent character acquisition during terrestrialisation. The inclusion of fossil morphology mitigates long-branch artefacts as exemplified by pycnogonids: when fossils are included, they resolve with euchelicerates rather than as a sister taxon to all other euarthropods.
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              Phylogenomic interrogation of arachnida reveals systemic conflicts in phylogenetic signal.

              Chelicerata represents one of the oldest groups of arthropods, with a fossil record extending to the Cambrian, and is sister group to the remaining extant arthropods, the mandibulates. Attempts to resolve the internal phylogeny of chelicerates have achieved little consensus, due to marked discord in both morphological and molecular hypotheses of chelicerate phylogeny. The monophyly of Arachnida, the terrestrial chelicerates, is generally accepted, but has garnered little support from molecular data, which have been limited either in breadth of taxonomic sampling or in depth of sequencing. To address the internal phylogeny of this group, we employed a phylogenomic approach, generating transcriptomic data for 17 species in combination with existing data, including two complete genomes. We analyzed multiple data sets containing up to 1,235,912 sites across 3,644 loci, using alternative approaches to optimization of matrix composition. Here, we show that phylogenetic signal for the monophyly of Arachnida is restricted to the 500 slowest-evolving genes in the data set. Accelerated evolutionary rates in Acariformes, Pseudoscorpiones, and Parasitiformes potentially engender long-branch attraction artifacts, yielding nonmonophyly of Arachnida with increasing support upon incrementing the number of concatenated genes. Mutually exclusive hypotheses are supported by locus groups of variable evolutionary rate, revealing significant conflicts in phylogenetic signal. Analyses of gene-tree discordance indicate marked incongruence in relationships among chelicerate orders, whereas derived relationships are demonstrably robust. Consistently recovered and supported relationships include the monophyly of Chelicerata, Euchelicerata, Tetrapulmonata, and all orders represented by multiple terminals. Relationships supported by subsets of slow-evolving genes include Ricinulei + Solifugae; a clade comprised of Ricinulei, Opiliones, and Solifugae; and a clade comprised of Tetrapulmonata, Scorpiones, and Pseudoscorpiones. We demonstrate that outgroup selection without regard for branch length distribution exacerbates long-branch attraction artifacts and does not mitigate gene-tree discordance, regardless of high gene representation for outgroups that are model organisms. Arachnopulmonata (new name) is proposed for the clade comprising Scorpiones + Tetrapulmonata (previously named Pulmonata). © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Society for Molecular Biology and Evolution. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: journals.permissions@oup.com.

                Author and article information

                PeerJ Inc. (San Francisco, USA )
                13 November 2014
                : 2
                : e641
                [1 ]School of Earth, Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences and The Manchester X-ray Imaging Facility, School of Materials, The University of Manchester , Manchester, UK
                [2 ]Museum für Naturkunde, Leibniz Institute for Research on Evolution and Biodiversity at the Humboldt University Berlin , Berlin, Germany
                © 2014 Garwood and Dunlop

                This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, reproduction and adaptation in any medium and for any purpose provided that it is properly attributed. For attribution, the original author(s), title, publication source (PeerJ) and either DOI or URL of the article must be cited.

                : 8 August 2014
                : 8 October 2014
                Funded by: EPSRC
                Award ID: EP/F007906/1
                Award ID: EP/F001452/1
                Award ID: EP/I02249X/1
                This work was funded in part by the EPSRC (grants EP/F007906/1, EP/F001452/1 and EP/I02249X/1). This paper was completed, in part, during a SYNTHESYS visit to Museum fur Naturkunde awarded to RG. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.
                Evolutionary Studies



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