Logo Logo
Switch Language to German
Dohrmann, Martin; Wörheide, Gert ORCID: 0000-0002-6380-7421 (2017): Dating early animal evolution using phylogenomic data. In: Scientific Reports, Vol. 7, 3599
Creative Commons Attribution 1MB


Information about the geological timeframe during which animals radiated into their major subclades is crucial to understanding early animal ecology and evolution. Unfortunately, the pre-Cambrian fossil record is sparse and its interpretation controversial. Relaxed molecular-clock methods provide an alternative means of estimating the timing of cladogenesis deep in the metazoan tree of life. So far, thorough molecular clock studies focusing specifically on Metazoa as a whole have been based on relatively small datasets or incomplete representation of the main non-bilaterian lineages (such as sponges and ctenophores), which are fundamental for understanding early metazoan evolution. Here, we use a previously published phylogenomic dataset that includes a fair sampling of all relevant groups to estimate the timing of early animal evolution with Bayesian relaxed-clock methods. According to our results, all non-bilaterian phyla, as well as total-group Bilateria, evolved in an ancient radiation during a geologically relatively short time span, before the onset of long-term global glaciations ("Snowball Earth";similar to 720-635 Ma). Importantly, this result appears robust to alterations of a number of important analytical variables, such as models of among-lineage rate variation and sets of fossil calibrations used.