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The phylogenetic position of the extinct arachnid order Phalangiotarbida Haase, 1890, with reference to the fauna from the Writhlington Geological Nature Reserve (Somerset, UK)

  • Jessica R. Pollitt (a1), Simon J. Braddy (a2) and Jason A. Dunlop (a3)

Study of abundant phalangiotarbid (Arachnida: Phalangiotarbida) material – provisionally assigned here to Bornatarbus mayasii (Haupt in Nindel 1955) – from the Upper Carboniferous of Writhlington, UK, has revealed new information about some previously equivocal characters. The present authors report a trifurcate apotele, possible spiracles on sternite 5, and confirm the presence of 10 opisthosomal tergites plus a dorsal anal operculum. The affinities of phalangiotarbids are obscure, with most authors favouring affinities with Opiliones (harvestmen) and/or Acari (mites and ticks). Phalangiotarbida is scored for characters used in previous studies of arachnid relationships. A cladistic analysis based on 63 characters using 13 terminal arachnid taxa (plus a hypothetical outgroup), resolves Phalangiotarbida as sister group to (Palpigradi + Tetrapulmonata): the taxon Megoperculata sensu Shultz (1990). Even under cladistic analysis, the position of the Phalangiotarbida remains hard to resolve, but a prosomal sternite with distinct sclerites potentially groups them with the Megoperculata.

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Department of Biology and Biochemistry, University of Bath, Bath, BA2 7AY, UK. e-mail:

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Earth and Environmental Science Transactions of The Royal Society of Edinburgh
  • ISSN: 1755-6910
  • EISSN: 1755-6929
  • URL: /core/journals/earth-and-environmental-science-transactions-of-royal-society-of-edinburgh
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