Earth and Life pp 395-435 | Cite as

Phylogeny of Palaeozoic Gastropods Inferred from Their Ontogeny

  • Jiří FrýdaEmail author
Part of the International Year of Planet Earth book series (IYPE)


Gastropods are not only one of the most diverse groups of living animals (the second after Insecta) occuring in marine, freshwater as well as terrestrial environments, but also have a rich fossil record extending back to the Cambrian. Because a third of all gastropod families are extinct, understanding of gastropod evolution and phylogeny necessarily involves study of both fossil and living species. Knowledge of the latter can be obtained from anatomical, morphologic, and molecular data, but for extinct forms virtually the only data source is the shell; typically it presents us with few characteristics. For both living and fossil gastropods, elucidation of ontogenic strategies is of prime importance in understanding the high-level phylogeny of this enormously diverse group. The analysis of Palaeozoic gastropods presented here relies heavily on ontogenies based on shell characteristics. It is argued that these results coordinate well with phylogenies of living gastropods inferred from the wider aggregate of anatomical, morphological, and molecular data. On the other hand, the analysis has highlighted problems with published phylogenies of living gastropods and, moreover, has produced evidence for the existence of several order-rank and long-lasting gastropod lineages forming an important part of Palaeozoic gastropod faunas but which failed to cross the Permian–Triassic boundary. Clearly, for understanding the phylogeny of the Gastropoda, it is imperative that the history of fossil gastropod clades be included.


Ontogenetic characters Shell microstructure Polyphyletic groups Heterobranchia Caenogastropoda Bellerophontoidea Macluritoidea Mimospirina Archaeogasropoda Euomphalomorpha High-level phylogenies 



This work was supported by grants from the Grant Agency of the Czech Republic (210/12/2018) and the Czech–American Cooperation Programme (Kontakt ME08011). The paper benefited greatly from the constructive review and linguistic help of Prof. John Talent (Australia) and from technical help with illustrations by Sangeetha Sathiamurthy (India). I thank both of them very much.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences PragueSuchdolCzech Republic
  2. 2.Czech Geological SurveyPrague 1Czech Republic

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