, Volume 535-536, Issue 1, pp 341-356

Polychaete phylogeny based on morphological data – a comparison of current attempts

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Abstract

Annelid phylogeny is one of the largest unresolved problems within the Metazoa. This is due to the enormous age of this taxon and also strongly influenced by the current discussion on the position of the Arthropoda, which traditionally is hypothesized to be the annelid sister taxon. Within the framework of recent discussions on the position of the Annelida, the ground pattern of this taxon is either a clitellate-like, parapodia-less dwelling organism or an organisms that resembles errant polychaetes in having parapodia and gills and probably being a predator. To solve this problem different attempts have been made in the past, cladistic analysis, scenario based plausibility considerations and a successive search for sister taxa base on isolated characters. These attempts are presented and critically discussed. There is at least strong support for the Annelida as wells as for several of its taxa above the level of traditional families; the monophyly of the Polychaeta, however, remains questionable.

The term taxon is used here in the sense of group of things that share certain characteristics. Biological taxa are not necessarily monophyletic, although many of them turned out to be. In terms of phylogenetic systematics taxa should be monophyletic.