, Volume 535, Issue 1, pp 341-356

First online:

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

  • Thomas BartolomaeusAffiliated withAnimal Systematics and Evolution, Free University Berlin Email author 
  • , Günter PurschkeAffiliated withSystematic Zoology, Department of Biology, University of Osnabrueck
  • , Harald HausenAffiliated withAnimal Systematics and Evolution, Free University Berlin

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


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.


Annelida ultrastructure phylogeny Echiura Clitellata Pogonophora