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A cladistic phylogeny of the family Patellidae (Mollusca: Gastropoda)

S. A. Ridgway, D. G. Reid, J. D. Taylor, G. M. Branch, A. N. Hodgson


A phylogenetic hypothesis for the patellid limpets is reconstructed by cladistic analysis of morphological characters from 37 species, representing all but one of the living members of the family. Characters included in the analysis are derived from shell shape and microstructure, headfoot and pallial complex, radula and sperm. The species fall into four clades, providing the basis for a new phylogenetic classification into four monophyletic genera: Helcion (four species; southern Africa), Cymbula (eight species; southern Africa, eastern Atlantic, southern Indian Ocean), Scutellastra (17 species; southern and southwestern Africa, Australia, Indo–West Pacific, Eastern Pacific) and Patella (nine species; northeastern Atlantic and Mediterranean). The analysis suggests sister–group relationships between Helcion and Cymbula, and between Scutellastra and Patella. In combination with present–day patterns of geographical distribution, this phylogenetic hypothesis is used to discuss the historical biogeography of the Patellidae. Scutellastra may have originated in southern Africa and dispersed across the Pacific, or alternatively may be a primitively Tethyan group. Both Helcion and Cymbula appear to have originated in southern Africa, but three Cymbula species have dispersed respectively to northwest Africa, St Helena and the southern Indian Ocean. The patellids of the northeastern Atlantic form a single clade, Patella (including P. pellucida), which may have arrived by northward dispersal of an ancestor from southern Africa, or possibly by vicariance of a widespread ancestral Tethyan distribution. The known fossil record of patellids is too fragmentary to permit choice between these alternatives.

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