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Study finds surprising new branches on arthropod family tree
Date:2/10/2010

said. Earlier studies had not used as many genes or as many species, making this study about four times larger than anything done previously.

The spiders, ticks and scorpions of the subgroup Chelicerata are shown to have split from the line leading to insects and crustaceans even before the millipedes and centipedes of the subphylum Myriapoda. Most recent molecular studies had grouped these arachnids in Chelicerata together with millipedes and centipedes of the Myriapoda. But the new analysis puts millipedes and centipedes together with crustaceans and insects in a group taxonomists had long ago named Mandibulata.

"The only thing people thought they knew before molecular data was available was that the Myriapods were with the insects," Shultz said. But that turned out to be wrong. Even the grouping Crustacea is no longer correct, since it includes the six-legged insects.

Within the insect group Hexapoda, the good news for taxonomists who have grouped insects according to body shape and features is that they were pretty much on the mark, Shultz added.

There are still many holes that need to be filled in, Cunningham said, but at least the shape of the tree seems right. "Now the developmental biologists can really piece things together."


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Contact: Karl Leif Bates
karl.bates@duke.edu
919-681-8054
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

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