The Mysticeti is diphyletic (or expanded)

Earlier the large reptile tree (LRT, 1160 taxa) split Cetacea into separate clades arising from tenrecs (Odontoceti) and hippos (Mysticeti). Today the Mysticeti splits Balaenidae (right and pygmy right whales) from all other mysticetes (Fig. 1). Desmostylians are basal to both. So either the Mysticeti is diphyletic (like turtles) developing in parallel…or this clade is expanded to now include some members with legs, teeth and not much of a tail.

Figure 1. Subset of the LRT focusing on the mesonyx/mysticete clade showing the split between right whales and all other mysticetes.

Figure 1. Subset of the LRT focusing on the mesonyx/mysticete clade showing the split between right whales and all other mysticetes.

This confirms
by phylogenetic bracketing, that some desmostylians had baleen.

This was brought about by
adding the smallest baleen whale, Miocaperea (Miocene, Bisconti 2012) and reexamining previously included taxa. DNA could not have recovered this split, as it requires fossil taxa. To those who know whales pretty well, the right whales are distinct from the others in morphology and feeding strategy.

Caperea, the pygmy right whale, was considered a cetiothere, but here nests with right whales… and Desmostylus.

Images and more data next time. I have to revise some web pages now.

References
Bisconti M 2012. Comparative osteology and phylogenetic relationships of Miocaperea pulchra, the first fossil pygmy right whale genus and species (Cetacea, Mysticeti, Neobalaenidae). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 166: 876-911.

wiki/Miocaperea
wiki/Baleen_whale

6 thoughts on “The Mysticeti is diphyletic (or expanded)

  1. So either the Mysticeti is diphyletic (like turtles) developing in parallel…or this clade is expanded to now include some members with legs, teeth and not much of a tail.

    Or, third option, there’s something wrong with your matrix.

    I continue to be amazed at how this possibility never seems to occur to you.

  2. Try entering a few of the taxa suggested here and see what happens. My stock and trade is suggesting overlooked and omitted taxa, every since suggesting Cosesaurus and Huehuecuetzpalli be added to archosaur studies that include pterosaurs. Shame on you for not testing the suggestion first before railing against the results! Don’t act like a priest in Galileo’s Europe.

    • Adding characters to your matrix is your job. I’ll add characters to my matrix.

      For fun, I once added myself to my matrix, without adding characters. I came out as a lissamphibian next to the albanerpetids.

    • Looking for misscores, redundant characters and similar problems in your matrix is also your job. I did a bit of it anyway, a year and a month ago. You never replied to most of it, complaining my comment was too long…

  3. Like many workers, you’re barking up the wrong tree, looking for keys under a lamp that you lost in an alley. I had too few characters and the wrong characters when I had 300 taxa. Now I have 1161 taxa and the same characters are lumping and splitting every taxa (except for one, Maelestes, that is woefully incomplete). The test of success is: are you able to lump and split all your taxa? If so, that’s all you need.

    • Complete or even high resolution isn’t the test of success though. We’ve told you this countless times, why don’t you believe us? You won’t find phylogeneticists out there saying they think analysis X is more accurate than analysis Y because its MPTs are more highly resolved. You just made up that idea yourself.

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