Organisms Diversity & Evolution

, Volume 12, Issue 4, pp 421–432 | Cite as

Contribution to the molecular phylogenetic analysis of extant holocephalan fishes (Holocephali, Chimaeriformes)

  • Martin Licht
  • Katharina Schmuecker
  • Thomas Huelsken
  • Reinhold Hanel
  • Peter Bartsch
  • Martin Paeckert
Original Article


Much attention has been paid to the molecular phylogeny of holocephalan fishes during recent years, but sampling was very low and not all genera were examined. This study offers an extended sampling of species from all known genera to clarify their phylogeny and to provide an estimate of the time of origin of extant holocephalan taxa. Three mitochondrial genes (cytochrome b, 12S rRNA, and 16S rRNA) were sequenced and analysed using a variety of phylogenetic methods (Bayes, maximum likelihood, and maximum parsimony). Callorhinchidae diverged from Rhinochimaeridae and Chimaeridae about 187 Ma ago. Chimaeridae and Rhinochimaeridae diverged from each other about 159 Ma ago. Within Rhinochimaeridae, Neoharriotta is the sister genus to the closely related Harriotta and Rhinochimaera. Eight species of the family Chimaeridae, belonging to the genera Hydrolagus and Chimaera, were examined. They probably had a common ancestor about 107 Ma ago and appear paraphyletic. These results indicate that the traditional morphological generic definition of the families Rhinochimaeridae and Chimaeridae has to be reinvestigated.


Chondrichthyes Chimaeridae Molecular phylogeny Evolution Neoharriotta pinnata Node time estimation 



We sincerely thank Matthias Schneider (Frankfurt), Axel Zarske (Dresden), Ralf Thiel (Hamburg), Friedhelm Krupp (Frankfurt), and Ulrich Schliewen (Munich) for the donation of tissue material. For help in the collections we thank Dirk Neumann (Munich) and Irina Eidus (Hamburg). This study has benefited greatly from the hearty help of Anja Rauh (Dresden) during the laboratory work. We also thank Peter Last (Sydney), Heiko Stuckas (Dresden), and Nicolas Straube (Munich) for discussions on molecular work methods and approaches, and Michael Buchwitz and Jan Fischer (both Freiberg) for comments on the manuscript and help with the figures. We are grateful to Jason Dunlop, Berlin, for correction of the English language. A portion of this study was supported by the molecular laboratory of Dresden; for this purpose we thank Anna K. Hundsdörfer and Uwe Fritz (both Dresden). Last but not least we want to thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Gesellschaft für Biologische Systematik 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Martin Licht
    • 1
    • 2
  • Katharina Schmuecker
    • 3
  • Thomas Huelsken
    • 4
  • Reinhold Hanel
    • 5
  • Peter Bartsch
    • 6
  • Martin Paeckert
    • 2
  1. 1.Geologisches Institut, TU Bergakademie FreibergFreiberg/SachsenGermany
  2. 2.Senckenberg Naturhistorische Sammlungen DresdenDresdenGermany
  3. 3.Department of Historical Anthropology and Human Ecology, Johann-Friedrich-Blumenbach-Institute for Zoology and AnthropologyUniversity of GöttingenGöttingenGermany
  4. 4.School of Biological SciencesThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  5. 5.vTI-Institute of Fisheries EcologyHamburgGermany
  6. 6.Museum für Naturkunde BerlinBerlinGermany

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