Improvements in the fossil record may largely resolve current conflicts between morphological and molecular estimates of mammal phylogeny

Beck, RMD ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7050-7072 and Baillie, CJP 2018, 'Improvements in the fossil record may largely resolve current conflicts between morphological and molecular estimates of mammal phylogeny' , Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 285 (1893) , p. 20181632.

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Abstract

Phylogenies of mammals based on morphological data continue to show several major areas of conflict with the current consensus view of their relationships, which is based largely on molecular data. This raises doubts as to whether current morphological character sets are able to accurately resolve mammal relationships. We tested this under a hypothetical ‘best case scenario’ by using ancestral state reconstruction (under both maximum parsimony and maximum likelihood) to infer the morphologies of fossil ancestors for all clades present in a recent comprehensive DNA sequencebased phylogeny of mammals, and then seeing what effect the subsequent inclusion of these predicted ancestors had on unconstrained phylogenetic analyses of morphological data. We found that this resulted in topologies that are highly congruent with the current consensus phylogeny, at least when the predicted ancestors are assumed to be well preserved and densely sampled. Most strikingly, several analyses recovered the monophyly of clades that have never been found in previous morphology-only studies, such as Afrotheria and Laurasiatheria. Our results suggest that, at least in principle, improvements in the fossil record—specifically the discovery of fossil taxa that preserve the ancestral or near-ancestral morphologies of the nodes in the current consensus—may be sufficient to largely reconcile morphological and molecular estimates of mammal phylogeny, even using current morphological character sets

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences
Journal or Publication Title: Proceedings of the Royal Society B
Publisher: The Royal Society
ISSN: 0962-8452
Related URLs:
Depositing User: R Beck
Date Deposited: 14 Dec 2018 12:16
Last Modified: 09 Oct 2020 07:35
URI: http://usir.salford.ac.uk/id/eprint/49525

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