Updated July 2, 2016 with additional mammals on the cladogram. Updated July 10, 2016 with a revised skull for Elephas.
Today starts a three-day weekend in America
as we celebrate our independence Monday, July 4, which gives me lots of time to add taxa to the large reptile tree (still fully resolved at 712 taxa).
One taxon added today is Elephas,
the Indian elephant. And just as birds are dinosaurs because they descend from dinosaurs, elephants are reptiles, because they descend from reptiles that diverged from basal tetrapods some 340 mya in the Viséan (with lots of taxa in between demonstrating a gradual accumulation of derived traits.)
here’s where elephants nest in the large reptile tree (subset Fig. 1):
Before anyone gets their panties in a bunch,
because taxa are not nesting with the traditional mammal sisters listed in Wikipedia, often as recovered by molecule analyses, remember, this is a short and growing list of mammals. DNA and morphology sometimes don’t match. And the character list was created for non-mammals. Still they’re doing a pretty good job. The herbivores are nesting with other herbivores here. Elephants don’t nest with ungulates in traditional trees.
Over the next few days
as more taxa are added let’s see if the tree topology changes to reflect traditional nestings or not. We’ve gained new insights before. We might do it again.