Skip to main content

Data from: Morphology, molecules, and the phylogenetics of cetaceans

Cite this dataset

Messenger, Sharon L.; McGuire, Jimmy A. (2008). Data from: Morphology, molecules, and the phylogenetics of cetaceans [Dataset]. Dryad.


Recent phylogenetic analyses of cetacean relationships based on DNA sequence data have challenged the traditional view that baleen whales (Mysticeti) and toothed whales (Odontoceti) are each monophyletic, arguing instead that baleen whales are the sister group of the odontocete family Physeteridae (sperm whales). We reexamined this issue in light of a morphological data set composed of 207 characters and molecular data sets of published 12S, 16S, and cytochrome b mitochondrial DNA sequences. We reach four primary conclusions: (1) Our morphological data set strongly supports the traditional view of odontocete monophyly; (2) the unrooted molecular and morphological trees are very similar, and most of the conflict results from alternative rooting positions; (3) the rooting position of the molecular tree is sensitive to choice of artiodactyl outgroup taxa and the treatment of two small but ambiguously aligned regions of the 12S and 16S sequences, whereas the morphological root is strongly supported; and (4) combined analyses of the morphological and molecular data provide a well-supported phylogenetic estimate consistent with that based on the morphological data alone (and the traditional view of toothed-whale monophyly) but with increased bootstrap support at nearly every node of the tree.

Usage notes