Skip to content Skip to navigation

Monograph: Phylogenetic signal and character compatibility in the appendicular skeleton of early tetrapods

Special Papers in Palaeontology - No. 86 - Cover Image
Publication: Special Papers in Palaeontology
Number: 86
Publication Date: 2011
Page(s): 31 43
Authored By: Marcello Ruta
Addition Information

How to Cite

RUTA, M. 2011. Phylogenetic signal and character compatibility in the appendicular skeleton of early tetrapods IN BARRETT, P.M. and MILNER, A.R. (eds.) Studies on Fossil Tetrapods. Speicial Papers in Palaeontology, 86, 31-43.

Online Version Hosted By

Wiley Published Book


A new data set of appendicular skeletal characters in a representative sample of fin- and limb-bearing taxa spanning the fish–tetrapod transition is used to test the phylogenetic utility of both girdle and paired appendage data. A cladistic analysis retrieves most traditional taxonomic groups, highlighting only partial conflict along internal branches that sit deep in the phylogeny, and good to moderate support for within-group branching sequences. Most of the conflict affects stem tetrapods from the Devonian, with Ichthyostega, Hynerpeton and the Catskill humerus as particularly unstable taxa. Phylogenetic constraints that reflect recent hypotheses of relationships do not entail significant differences (in terms of character fit) from the shortest trees. The data set is subjected to an analysis of trait compatibility. Results show that predefined character partitions (i.e. shoulder girdle, pelvic girdle, anterior paired appendages, posterior paired appendages and autopodium plus general features) do not reveal strong within-set correlation or any correlation with global character compatibilities. In addition, character clusters exhibit little logical and ⁄ or functional interdependence.

PalAss Go! URL: | Twitter: Share on Twitter | Facebook: Share on Facebook | Google+: Share on Google+