logo Metazoan, Arthropod and Deuterostome Phylogeny

Metazoan Phylogeny

Arthropod Phylogeny

Deuterostome Phylogeny

Metazoan Phylogeny
metazoan phylogeny treeThe metazoan phylogeny diagram (left) has been provided by K. Halanych.
Select either image or hypertext to enlarge.

This diagram represents the current understanding of metazoan phylogeny. Drawing on information from several different sources this topology represents a consensus illustrating the relationships between major metazoan taxa. Many lesser-known 'phyla' (e.g., gastrotrichs, acanthocephalans, placozoans, nematomorphs, etc.) are not included for simplicity or because their phylogenetic affinities are not clear. The echinoderm and cnidarian projects are currently underway. Organisms in red type have either just been sequenced or they are currently the focus of planned genome projects. Echiurids and pogonophorans are within the annelids but are shown separate for simplicity.

Halanych, K. M., and Y. Passamaneck. 2001. A brief review of metazoan phylogeny and future prospects in Hox-research. American Zoologist 41: 629-639.

U. C. Berkeley Museum of Paleontology provides a clear presentation of the evolutionary relationships among the Metazoa

Tree of Life provides extensive links and source material describing the Metazoa

Arthropod Phylogeny

Tree of Life Arthropoda site

BIOSIS Guide to Arthropods

U. C. Berkeley Museum of Paleontology: Systematics of the Arthropoda

Deuterostome Phylogeny

The deuterostome phyla include Echinodermata, Hemichordata, and Chordata. Chordata is composed of three subphyla, Vertebrata, Cephalochordata (Branchiostoma), and Urochordata (Tunicata). Careful analysis of a new 18S rDNA data set indicates that deuterostomes are composed of two major clades: chordates and echinoderms + hemichordates. This analysis strongly supports the monophyly of each of the four major deuterostome taxa: Vertebrata + Cephalochordata, Urochordata, Hemichordata, and Echinodermata. Hemichordates include two distinct classes, the enteropneust worms and the colonial pterobranchs. Most previous hypotheses of deuterostome origins have assumed that the morphology of extant colonial pterobranchs resembles the ancestral deuterostome. A molecular phylogenetic analysis of hemichordates is presented that challenges this long-held view. 18S rRNA was used to infer evolutionary relationships of the hemichordate classes Pterobranchia and Enteropneusta. The data show that pterobranchs may be derived within enteropneust worms rather than being a sister clade to the enteropneusts. The nesting of the pterobranchs within the enteropneusts dramatically alters the view of the evolution of the chordate body plan and suggests that the ancestral deuterostome more closely resembled a mobile worm-like enteropneust than a sessile colonial pterobranch.

This analysis of the slow evolving rDNA sequences of the 16 deuterostome taxa is the first molecular study to define clearly the evolutionary relationships among all four major groups of deuterostomes. Vertebrata is found to be monophyletic and a sister clade to Cephalochordata. Urochordata is monophyletic and forms a sister group to Vertebrata + Cephalochordata. The sister relationship between urochordates and vertebrates + cephalochordates is supported by morphological evidence. The presence of a notochord unites urochordates, cephalochordates, and vertebrates, although some authors differentiate the notochord of vertebrates + cephalochordates from the urochord of urochordates. The characters that set vertebrates + cephalochordates apart from urochordates are the presence of myotomes in vertebrates + cephalochordates and the presence of the tunic in the urochordates. Urochordates are considered members of Chordata because the tadpole larva exhibits the chordate body plan. However, differences in adult body plan and life histories of urochordates compared with vertebrates + cephalochordates justify a reappraisal of the inclusion of urochordates within the phylum Chordata despite the presence of a notochord.

Phylogenetic tree from Cameron, 2000

Cameron, C. B., Garey, J. R. and Swalla, B. J. (2000). Evolution of the chordate body plan: New insights from phylogenetic analyses of deuterostome phyla. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 97: 4469-4474. Direct link

Tree of Life provides links and source material about Deuterstomia (vertebrates, echinoderms, tunicates, etc.)

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