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Congruence, fossils, and the evolutionary tree of rodents and lagomorphs.

Asher, R. and Smith, M. R. and Rankin, A. and Emry, R. (2019) 'Congruence, fossils, and the evolutionary tree of rodents and lagomorphs.', Royal Society open science., 6 (7). p. 190387.


Given an evolutionary process, we expect distinct categories of heritable data, sampled in ever larger amounts, to converge on a single tree of historical relationships. We tested this assertion by undertaking phylogenetic analyses of a new morphology-DNA dataset for mammals, focusing on Glires and including the oldest known skeletons of geomyoid and Ischyromys rodents. Our results support geomyoids in the mouse-related clade (Myomorpha) and a ricochetal locomotor pattern for the common ancestor of geomyoid rodents. They also support Ischyromys in the squirrel-related clade (Sciuromorpha) and the evolution of sciurids and Aplodontia from extinct, "protrogomorph"-grade rodents. Moreover, ever larger samples of characters from our dataset increased congruence with an independent, well-corroborated tree. Addition of morphology from fossils increased congruence to a greater extent than addition of morphology from extant taxa, consistent with fossils' temporal proximity to the common ancestors of living species, reflecting the historical, phylogenetic signal present in our data, particularly in morphological characters from fossils. Our results support the widely held but poorly tested intuition that fossils resemble the common ancestors shared by living species, and that fossilizable hard tissues (i.e., bones and teeth) help to reconstruct the evolutionary tree of life.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution.
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Publisher statement:© 2019 The Authors. Published by the Royal Society under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, provided the original author and source are credited.
Date accepted:19 June 2019
Date deposited:19 June 2019
Date of first online publication:17 July 2019
Date first made open access:10 July 2019

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