Timeline of the evolution of eelpouts from the suborder Zoarcoidei (Perciformes) based on DNA variability
Based on the analysis of variability of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA and calibration of the molecular clock using the paleontological data, the divergence time of the eelpouts is assessed. The temporal frames of the evolution of the suborder Zoarcoidei are restricted to the Late Oligocene and the middle of the Late Miocene, within a diapason of approximately 12 Ma. The families Bathymasteridae and Cebidichthyidae were the first to separate from the common ancestor, 14.7–22.5 and 13.1–19.1 Ma, respectively. The differentiation of other families occurred between the Middle and the Late Miocene approximately 10–15 Ma. The period from the Late Miocene to the Mid-Pliocene (3.6–7.8 Ma), most likely, was the time of the appearance and distribution of the present species of the suborder. Assessment of the DNA divergence rate in the eelpouts conducted in this study is in accordance with known evolutionary scenarios and with key steps of geological development of the World Ocean.