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Arthropod Struct Dev. 2010 Mar-May;39(2-3):111-23. doi: 10.1016/j.asd.2009.10.004. Epub 2009 Nov 3.

Tracing the trilobite tree from the root to the tips: a model marriage of fossils and phylogeny.

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  • 1Department of Geology, University of Kansas, 1475 Jayhawk Boulevard, Lawrence, KS 66045, USA.


Trilobites are a highly diverse group of extinct arthropods that persisted for nearly 300 million years. During that time, there was a profusion of morphological form, and they occupied a plethora of marine habitats. Their diversity, relative abundance, and complex morphology make them excellent candidates for phylogenetic analysis, and partly as a consequence they have been the subject of many cladistic studies. Although phylogenetic knowledge is certainly incomplete, our understanding of evolutionary patterns within the group has dramatically increased over the last 30 years. Moreover, trilobites have formed an important component of various studies of macroevolutionary processes. Here, we summarize the phylogenetic breadth of knowledge on the Trilobita, and present various hypotheses about phylogenetic patterns within the group, from the highest to the lowest taxonomic levels. Key topics we consider include the question of trilobite monophyly, the phylogenetic position of trilobites vis à vis extant arthropod groups, and inter- and intra-ordinal relationships.

Copyright (c) 2009 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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