Phylogenomic interrogation resolves the backbone of the Pseudoscorpiones tree of life

Ligia R. Benavides, Julia G. Cosgrove, Mark S. Harvey, Gonzalo Giribet

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63 Citations (Scopus)


Pseudoscorpiones, with nearly 3700 described species, are an ancient and globally distributed group of arachnids with a fossil record dating back to the Middle Devonian. Previous attempts to reconstruct their phylogenetic history have used morphology or a few amplicons, mostly of rRNAs and mitochondrial genes, which have not been able to completely resolve family-level relationships nor the earliest nodes in the pseudoscorpion tree—those which are most informative about the origins of key characters like venoms and silk. Here we undertake a phylogenetic approach using 41 pseudoscorpion transcriptomes and a series of analyses that account for many of the common pitfalls faced in large phylogenomic analyses. All analyses, using concatenation methods and coalescent approaches, supported monophyly of Iocheirata (the venomous pseudoscorpions), which diversified mostly during the Mesozoic, but paraphyly of Epiocheirata, with a sister group relationship of Feaelloidea to Iocheirata, with Chthonioidea as their sister group. These three main lineages were established during the mid-to-late Paleozoic. Our phylogenetic scheme is consistent with the prior hypothesis that the lack of venom in Pseudoscorpiones is plesiomorphic and not a synapomorphy of Epiocheirata. Based on the results of this study, a new classification is proposed for Pseudoscorpiones including the following new nomenclatural and taxonomic acts: the new suborders Palaeosphyronida Harvey and Atoposphyronida Harvey for Dracochelidae and Feaelloidea, respectively; the newly recognized superfamily Garypinoidea for Garypinidae and Larcidae; the revised rank for Lechytiidae and Tridenchthoniidae, which are regarded as subfamilies of Chthoniidae; the revised rank for Tridenchthoniini and Verrucadithini which are regarded as tribes of Tridenchthoniinae; and the elevation of Hesperolpiinae as a distinct family, Hesperolpiidae.

Original languageEnglish
Article number106509
JournalMolecular Phylogenetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


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