The phylogenetic relationships of geoemydid turtles from the Eocene Messel Pit Quarry: a first assessment using methods for continuous and discrete characters.

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Date: Aug. 5, 2021
From: PeerJ(Vol. 9)
Publisher: PeerJ. Ltd.
Document Type: Article
Length: 15,758 words
Lexile Measure: 1490L

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Abstract :

The geoemydid turtles of the Eocoene Messel Pit Quarry of Hesse, Germany, are part of a rich Western European fossil record of testudinoids. Originally referred to as "Ocadia" kehreri and "Ocadia" messeliana, their systematic relationships remain unclear. A previous study proposed that a majority of the Western European geoemydids, including the Messel geoemydids, are closely related to the Recent European representatives of the clade Mauremys. Another study hypothesised that the Western European geoemydid fauna is more phylogenetically diverse, and that the Messel geoemydids are closely related to the East Asian turtles Orlitia and Malayemys. Here we present the first quantitative analyses to date that investigate this question. We use continuous characters in the form of ratios to estimate the placement of the Messel geoemydids in a reference tree that was estimated from molecular data. We explore the placement error obtained from that data with maximum likelihood and Bayesian methods, as well as linear parsimony in combination with discrete characters. We find good overall performance with Bayesian and parsimony analyses. Parsimony performs even better when we also incorporated discrete characters. Yet, we cannot pin down the position of the Messel geoemydids with high confidence. Depending on how intraspecific variation of the ratio characters is treated, parsimony favours a placement of the Messel fossils sister to Orlitia borneensis or sister to Geoemyda spengleri, with weak bootstrap support. The latter placement is suspect because G. spengleri is a phylogenetically problematic species with molecular and morphological data. There is even less support for placements within the Mauremys clade.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A670749159