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Evolutionary relationships of the Sparidae (Teleostei: Percoidei): integrating fossil and Recent data

  • Julia J. Day (a1)


The Eocene sparid fauna (Teleostei: Percoidei) from Monte Bolca, Italy and from the London Clay, U.K. is revised based on re-examination of the type material and phylogenetic analyses of primarily osteological data. Two phylogenetic analyses, one of the Eocene taxa and a combined analysis of fossil and extant taxa, were performed. The addition of fossils to the extant data greatly increased numbers of most parsimonious trees, destabilising and obscuring basal relationships within the Sparidae. Combination of the data from fossil and extant data also affected relationships among the fossil taxa, changing some from those recovered using fossil data alone and destabilising others. Successive approximations character weighting supported the inclusion of the Eocene taxa within a monophyletic Sparidae. The genus Sparnodus, as previously conceived, is paraphyletic and is partitioned to remove the paraphyly. Five monotypic genera are recognised, including three new genera, Abromasta, Ellaserrata and Pseudosparnodus. Inclusion of the fossils in the phylogenetic analysis implies a minimum age of origin for the Sparidae of 55 Ma with most Recent sparid fauna in place no later than the Miocene, and provides further evidence that the diversification of feeding strategies occurred early on in the evolutionary history of the group.


Corresponding author

*Currently at the Department of Zoology, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, U.K. e-mail:



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