Research Articles

The Early Radiation and Relationships of the Major Arthropod Groups

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Science  13 Oct 1989:
Vol. 246, Issue 4927, pp. 241-243
DOI: 10.1126/science.246.4927.241


Cambrian arthropods are now well known, but there has been little agreement on how they contribute to an understanding of arthropod phylogeny. Fossils have either been lumped together as "trilobitomorphs" or, more recently, have been the subject of speculation invoking a multiple polyphyletic origin of arthropods. Cladistic analysis of characters of Cambrian and living representatives (excluding Uniramia) shows that trilobites and chelicerates are relatively advanced compared with "crustaceans," and there are doubts whether the latter constitute a national group. An undue emphasis on singular autapomorphies of problematic fossils has obscured these relationships in the past. "Trilobitomorphs" were simply an artificial taxon based on shared primitive characters. The arthropods that evolved during the Cambrian radiation show no more apparent morphological diversity than do the living groups. The evidence of wellpreserved problematica is critical to understanding the nature of this radiation and the affinities of the groups that remain today.

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