Send to

Choose Destination
Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2015 Aug;89:205-18. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2015.04.004. Epub 2015 Apr 18.

Phylogenetic analysis of molecular and morphological data highlights uncertainty in the relationships of fossil and living species of Elopomorpha (Actinopterygii: Teleostei).

Author information

Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3AN, UK.
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA; Peabody Museum of Natural History, Yale University, New Haven, CT 06520, USA.


Elopomorpha is one of the three main clades of living teleost fishes and includes a range of disparate lineages including eels, tarpons, bonefishes, and halosaurs. Elopomorphs were among the first groups of fishes investigated using Hennigian phylogenetic methods and continue to be the object of intense phylogenetic scrutiny due to their economic significance, diversity, and crucial evolutionary status as the sister group of all other teleosts. While portions of the phylogenetic backbone for Elopomorpha are consistent between studies, the relationships among Albula, Pterothrissus, Notacanthiformes, and Anguilliformes remain contentious and difficult to evaluate. This lack of phylogenetic resolution is problematic as fossil lineages are often described and placed taxonomically based on an assumed sister group relationship between Albula and Pterothrissus. In addition, phylogenetic studies using morphological data that sample elopomorph fossil lineages often do not include notacanthiform or anguilliform lineages, potentially introducing a bias toward interpreting fossils as members of the common stem of Pterothrissus and Albula. Here we provide a phylogenetic analysis of DNA sequences sampled from multiple nuclear genes that include representative taxa from Albula, Pterothrissus, Notacanthiformes and Anguilliformes. We integrate our molecular dataset with a morphological character matrix that spans both living and fossil elopomorph lineages. Our results reveal substantial uncertainty in the placement of Pterothrissus as well as all sampled fossil lineages, questioning the stability of the taxonomy of fossil Elopomorpha. However, despite topological uncertainty, our integration of fossil lineages into a Bayesian time calibrated framework provides divergence time estimates for the clade that are consistent with previously published age estimates based on the elopomorph fossil record and molecular estimates resulting from traditional node-dating methods.


Bayesian; Eels; Fossil tip dating; Gissu; Tarpon

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center