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Whale phylogenetics and evolution



From: Ben Creisler
bcreisler@gmail.com


A non-dino paper that may be of interest:


John Gatesy, Jonathan H. Geisler, Joseph Chang, Carl Buell, Annalisa
Berta, Robert W. Meredith, Mark S. Springer & Michael R. McGowen
(2013)
A phylogenetic blueprint for a modern whale.
Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 66(2): 479–506
http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ympev.2012.10.012
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1055790312004186


The emergence of Cetacea in the Paleogene represents one of the most
profound macroevolutionary transitions within Mammalia. The move from
a terrestrial habitat to a committed aquatic lifestyle engendered
wholesale changes in anatomy, physiology, and behavior. The results of
this remarkable transformation are extant whales that include the
largest, biggest brained, fastest swimming, loudest, deepest diving
mammals, some of which can detect prey with a sophisticated
echolocation system (Odontoceti – toothed whales), and others that
batch feed using racks of baleen (Mysticeti – baleen whales). A
broad-scale reconstruction of the evolutionary remodeling that
culminated in extant cetaceans has not yet been based on integration
of genomic and paleontological information. Here, we first place
Cetacea relative to extant mammalian diversity, and assess the
distribution of support among molecular datasets for relationships
within Artiodactyla (even-toed ungulates, including Cetacea). We then
merge trees derived from three large concatenations of molecular and
fossil data to yield a composite hypothesis that encompasses many
critical events in the evolutionary history of Cetacea. By combining
diverse evidence, we infer a phylogenetic blueprint that outlines the
stepwise evolutionary development of modern whales. This hypothesis
represents a starting point for more detailed, comprehensive
phylogenetic reconstructions in the future, and also highlights the
synergistic interaction between modern (genomic) and traditional
(morphological + paleontological) approaches that ultimately must be
exploited to provide a rich understanding of evolutionary history
across the entire tree of Life.