Robust dinosaur phylogeny?


The Ankylosauria comprises two families of armoured dinosaurs (Nodosauridae and Ankylosauridae) that are best known from well-preserved specimens from the Cretaceous period. In their report on the skull of a new Jurassic ankylosaur, Gargoyleosaurus, Carpenter et al.1 presented a phylogenetic analysis of four terminal taxa, which yielded a tree with Gargoyleosaurus as the sister taxon of the Ankylosauridae. But the authors' claim that their tree is robust is undermined when their data and their tree are evaluated using numerical techniques.

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Figure 1: The three possible trees of ankylosaur relationships (rooted on Scelidosaurus with the basal polytomy unresolved).


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Wilkinson, M., Upchurch, P., Barrett, P. et al. Robust dinosaur phylogeny?. Nature 396, 423–424 (1998).

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