Original Paper

Marine Biology

, Volume 160, Issue 4, pp 821-841

First online:

Seeing stars: a molecular and morphological investigation into the evolutionary history of Odontasteridae (Asteroidea) with description of a new species from the Galapagos Islands

  • Alexis M. JanosikAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Auburn UniversityDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of West Florida Email author 
  • , Kenneth M. HalanychAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Auburn University

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Odontasteridae (Asteroidea: Echinodermata) (Verrill in Am J Sci, 1899) is placed within Valvatida, a derived assemblage of sea stars. Odontasterids are found in the Southern, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans and are concentrated in high southern latitudes. To date, the phylogenetic and evolutionary history of Odontasteridae as a whole has not been rigorously examined. We conducted molecular and morphological phylogenetic analyses of Odontasteridae to assess the interrelationships among and within recognized genera. We used mitochondrial 16S and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I molecular markers and 29 external morphological characters in an attempt to reconstruct the evolutionary history of the group. Generally, our results indicate that traditionally used external skeletal characters are not representative of phylogenetic history of Odontasteridae. We can conclude that species present in high latitudes in the Southern Hemisphere (i.e., Southern Ocean) are the most derived taxa. Additionally, mtDNA data suggest unrecognized lineages of odontasterids are present in high southern latitudes. A new species Odontaster cynthiae sp. nov. is described from the Galapagos Islands.