A Total Evidence Phylogeny of the Arctoidea (Carnivora: Mammalia): Relationships Among Basal Taxa

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A total evidence phylogenetic analysis was performed for 14 extant and 18 fossil caniform genera using a data matrix of 5.6 kbp of concatenated sequence data from six independent loci and 80 morphological characters from the cranium and dentition. Maximum parsimony analysis recovered a single most parsimonious cladogram (MPC). The topology of the extant taxa in the MPC agreed with previous molecular phylogenies. Phylogenetic positions for fossil taxa indicate that several taxa previously described as early members of extant families (e.g., Bathygale and Plesictis) are likely stem taxa at the base of the Arctoidea. Taxa in the “Paleomustelidae” were found to be paraphyletic, but a monophyletic Oligobuninae was recovered within this set of taxa. This clade was closely related to the extant genera Gulo and Martes, therefore, nested within the extant radiation of the family Mustelidae. This analysis provides a resolution to several discrepancies between phylogenies considering either fossil taxa or extant taxa separately, and provides a framework for incorporating fossil and extant taxa into comprehensive combined evidence analyses.

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