Tuesday, November 07, 2006


Re-evaluating ant evolution and diversity (PNAS)

From Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) 'Early Edition' information:

Re-evaluating Ant Evolution and Diversity - "As highly social organisms, ants display advanced social adaptations within their ranks, such as agriculture, herding, and enslavement. Ant species are widespread globally, but how ants evolved to their present-day dominance remains unresolved because fossil, molecular, and morphological data seem to provide conflicting answers. To address this issue, Sean Brady et al. generated and analyzed reportedly the most comprehensive molecular phylogenetic data set assembled to date for ants; the sequences encompass 151 species in all 20 living subfamilies, as well as 11 outgroup species from related aculeate wasp families. Different methods of analysis yielded different tree topologies, illustrating how inferences about ant relationships are sensitive to methods and assumptions. The results demonstrate that recent hypotheses, such as the existence of a poneroid clade or that the subfamily Leptanillinae is sister to the rest of the ants, may not be certain. Brady et al. also estimate that the last common ancestor of extant ants existed ~115-135 million years ago, within the time frame of 120 million years ago suggested by the fossil record." [Myrmecology, Morphology, Phylogeny, Topology, DNA]

Based on "Evaluating alternative hypotheses for the early evolution and diversification of ants" (Abstract)

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