Congratulations to our hagfish-in-training/postdoc Tetsuto Miyashita, whose paper “Hagfish from the Cretaceous Tethys Sea and a reconciliation of the morphological–molecular conflict in early vertebrate phylogeny” is now out in PNAS.
“Significance: Jawless, boneless, and virtually without fossil record, hagfish have long escaped systematists’ grip on their place among other fish. Yet their systematic resolution is critical to define vertebrates as a clade. Here we report an unequivocal fossil hagfish from the Cretaceous Mediterranean. Using this fossil to calibrate the evolutionary history of the group, our analysis supports hagfish and lampreys as sister groups, which likely diverged from one another in early Paleozoic times. As a result, vertebrates have a deep dichotomy, where some fossil jawless vertebrates sit closer to hagfish and lampreys than to jawed vertebrates. We showed that morphology-based analysis converged onto molecular inferences when characters are coded nonindependently, providing a case study for morphological–molecular conflicts in animal phylogeny.”