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Use of Morphology in Criticizing Molecular Trees

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Abstract A recent phylogenomic analysis of arthropod relationships (Regier et al., 2010) produced several surprising clades within Tetraconata (Pancrustacea). The first discussion of these heterodox findings in the carcinological literature was published in the Journal of Crustacean Biology by Ferrari (2010). Ferrari criticized the findings of Regier et al. from three perspectives: 1) that morphological and developmental evidence was not considered by Regier et al., thus casting doubt on their results; 2) that Regier et al.'s tree implies incredible transformations in crustacean body plans; and 3) that Regier et al.'s results could be a methodological artifact. I show that none of these criticisms can withstand scrutiny. One should take care in structuring a phylogenetic critique. Not doing so may well be counterproductive if the aim is to increase respect for non-molecular evidence in phylogenetics.

Affiliations: 1: ( Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, United Kingdom


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