Abstract

Considerable systematic work devoted to late Cambrian trilobites includes very little species-level phylogenetic analysis. This paper presents the phylogenetic analysis of 36 species representing eight genera assigned to the Family Pterocephaliidae that occur in the Great Basin of the western United States during the Steptoean stage (Furongian). Continuous characters are treated in four different ways: discretization using finite mixture coding, discretization using gap-weighting, “as such” using ranges of values as implemented in the phylogeny program TNT, and exclusion altogether. Results indicate that even the inclusion of only a few continuous characters dramatically increases the resolution of nodes. Despite the different treatments of continuous characters, major features of the trees are shared across all results. The subfamily Pterocephaliinae is restricted to genera which possess a concave anterior border. Relative stratigraphic placement was estimated using a composite section built in CONOP and used to scale the tree topologies and to assess stratigraphic consistency. Although previously hypothesized multispecies evolutionary series are not supported by the results, tree topology, stratigraphic distribution, and optimized character state transformation support the interpretation of several sister taxa as direct ancestor-descendent pairs.

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