Article: Rooting phylogenies of problematic fossil taxa; a case study using cinctans (stem-group echinoderms)
Extinct clades whose higher-level relationships are problematic or disputed pose a particular problem for phylogenetic analysis because of the difficulty of establishing a convincing root. Cinctans are a problematic group of primitive preradiate echinoderms whose morphology is so distinct that few characters can be usefully homologized with any other group. Here we use a two stage approach, first constructing an unrooted network using the totality of phylogenetically informative characters in which individual plates are homologized, and then determining the root position with a much smaller set of recast characters that can be polarized by outgroup and/or ontogenetic criteria. Furthermore, when rooting is based on stratigraphic criteria the same two major derived clades are identified, although basal relationships are somewhat different. We contend that the congruence of results obtained using our various approaches provides confidence that we have correctly rooted the cladogram. A revised taxonomy for Cincta is presented.