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Bioessays. 2008 Nov;30(11-12):1043-7. doi: 10.1002/bies.20842.

An even "newer" animal phylogeny.

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American Museum of Natural History, New York, Sackler Institute for Comparative Genomics, New York, NY 10024, USA.


Metazoa are one of the great monophyletic groups of organisms. They comprise several major groups of organisms readily recognizable based on their anatomy. These major groups include the Bilateria (animals with bilateral symmetry), Cnidaria (jellyfish, corals and other closely related animals), Porifera (sponges), Ctenophores (comb jellies) and a phylum currently made up of a single species, the Placozoa. Attempts to systematize the relationships of these major groups as well as to determine relationships within the groups have been made for nearly two centuries. Many of the attempts have led to frustration, because of a lack of resolution between and within groups. Other attempts have led to "a new animal phylogeny". Now, a study by Dunn et al., using the expresssed sequence tag (EST) approach to obtaining high-throughput large phylogenetic matrices, presents an "even newer" animal phylogeny. There are two major aspects of this study that should be of interest to the general biological community. First, the methods used by the authors to generate their phylogenetic hypotheses call for close examination. Second, the relationships of animal taxa in their resultant trees also prompt further discussion.

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