Are Polyphaga (Coleoptera) really a basal neopteran lineage – a reply to Kazantsev


Prof. R. G. Beutel, Institut für Spezielle Zoologie und Evolutionsbiologie, Friedrich Schiller Universität Jena, 07743 Jena, Germany. E-mail:


In a study on the mandible and mandibular articulation of larvae of the lycid genus Platerodrilus Kazantsev proposes a phylogenetic scheme with Polyphaga as a basal group of Neoptera and Lycidae as a basal group within Polyphaga. Here we point out different problems with his interpretation. The taxon sampling was not sufficient. The characters of endopterygote larvae cannot be compared to characters of adults in a phylogenetic context. The neotenic characters of female and adult male Lycidae are not sufficiently taken into account. A phylogenetic hypothesis should be based on multiple character systems and all available data must be considered. Kazantsev based his conclusions on a single isolated character complex. His hypothesis is in deep conflict with a phylogeny based on the molecular data, which clearly show that Lycidae are nested within Elateroidea. The molecular and morphological evidence also implies that females are aberrant neotenic forms and by no means ‘primitive’. Kazantsev's hypothesis is problematic because the presented data are insufficient and the character evaluation is not based on a numerical analysis.