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Keywords:

  • Cladistic biogeography;
  • hagfishes;
  • ocean basins;
  • panbiogeography;
  • vicariance

Abstract

In a recent paper by M. J. Cavalcanti and V. Gallo, ‘Panbiogeographical analysis of distribution patterns in hagfishes (Craniata: Myxinidae)’ (Journal of Biogeography, 2008, 35, 1258–1268), the authors studied the biogeography of an ancient fish family (Myxinidae) in the hope that the contemporary distributions of the species would reveal their past history and that of the ocean basins where they reside. In order to accomplish this task, there are several criteria that should have been met: (1) the ages of the taxa utilized (species) would have to be old enough to reflect the history of the areas where they are found, (2) the identification of the species as listed in the databases would have to be accurate, (3) the geographical locations indicated on the figures would have to be consistent with the statements in the text, and (4) the significance of the vicariant patterns would have to depend on evidence pertaining to the ages of such patterns. Unfortunately, it appears that none of these conditions has been met. It seems apparent that faith in an antiquated method of analysis led to neglect of the necessary steps in the analysis. This leaves little justification for publication of the paper, except to show that hagfishes are very widely distributed.