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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2016 Jul 19;371(1699). pii: 20150140. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2015.0140.

Mammal madness: is the mammal tree of life not yet resolved?

Author information

1
School of Biology and Environmental Science, Science Centre East, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland.
2
Department of Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA mark.springer@ucr.edu.
3
School of Biology and Environmental Science, Science Centre East, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland emma.teeling@ucd.ie.

Abstract

Most molecular phylogenetic studies place all placental mammals into four superordinal groups, Laurasiatheria (e.g. dogs, bats, whales), Euarchontoglires (e.g. humans, rodents, colugos), Xenarthra (e.g. armadillos, anteaters) and Afrotheria (e.g. elephants, sea cows, tenrecs), and estimate that these clades last shared a common ancestor 90-110 million years ago. This phylogeny has provided a framework for numerous functional and comparative studies. Despite the high level of congruence among most molecular studies, questions still remain regarding the position and divergence time of the root of placental mammals, and certain 'hard nodes' such as the Laurasiatheria polytomy and Paenungulata that seem impossible to resolve. Here, we explore recent consensus and conflict among mammalian phylogenetic studies and explore the reasons for the remaining conflicts. The question of whether the mammal tree of life is or can be ever resolved is also addressed.This article is part of the themed issue 'Dating species divergences using rocks and clocks'.

KEYWORDS:

coalesence; fossils; molecules; phylogenomics; supermatrix; time-tree

PMID:
27325836
PMCID:
PMC4920340
DOI:
10.1098/rstb.2015.0140
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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