A molecular phylogeny of the temperate Gondwanan family Pettalidae (Arachnida, Opiliones, Cyphophthalmi) and the limits of taxonomic sampling

Gonzalo Giribet, Sarah L. Boyer, Caitlin M. Baker, Rosa Fernández, Prashant P. Sharma, Benjamin L. de Bivort, Savel R. Daniels, Mark S. Harvey, Charles E. Griswold

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21 Citations (Scopus)


We evaluate the phylogenetic and biogeographical relationships of the members of the family Pettalidae (Opiliones, Cyphophthalmi), a textbook example of an ancient temperate Gondwanan taxon, by means of DNA sequence data from four markers. Taxon sampling is optimized to cover more than 70% of the described species in the family, with 117 ingroup specimens included in the analyses. The data were submitted to diverse analytical treatments, including static and dynamic homology, untrimmed and trimmed alignments, and a variety of optimality criteria including parsimony and maximum-likelihood (traditional search and Bayesian). All analyses found strong support for the monophyly of the family Pettalidae and of all its genera, with the exception of Speleosiro, which is nested within Purcellia. However, the relationships among genera are poorly resolved, with the exceptions of a first split between the South African genus Parapurcellia and the remaining species, and, less supported, a possible relationship between Chileogovea and the other South African genus Purcellia. The diversification of most genera is Mesozoic, and of the three New Zealand genera, two show evidence of constant diversification through time, contradicting scenarios of total submersion of New Zealand during the Oligocene drowning episode. The genera Karripurcellia from Western Australia and Neopurcellia from the Australian plate of New Zealand show a pattern typical of relicts, with ancient origin, depauperate extant diversity and recent diversification. The following taxonomic actions are taken: Milipurcellia Karaman, 2012 is synonymized with Karripurcellia Giribet, 2003 syn. nov.; Speleosiro Lawrence, 1931 is synonymised with Purcellia Hansen & Sørensen, 1904 syn. nov. The following new combinations are proposed: Parapurcellia transvaalica (Lawrence, 1963) comb. nov.; Purcellia argasiformis (Lawrence, 1931) comb. nov.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-545
Number of pages23
JournalZoological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2016


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