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The origin of multiplacophorans – convergent evolution in Aculiferan molluscs


Corresponding author.


Abstract:  Multiplacophorans are Palaeozoic (Silurian to Permian) stem group polyplacophorans with 17 shell plates in a particular arrangement of single terminal plates separated by three columns of plates forming five transverse rows. Their distinctive morphology has prompted disparate interpretations of their relationship to polyplacophorans. Some features are strikingly similar to crown group polyplacophorans and even to some living families. Here we describe two Devonian forms, Protobalanus spinicoronatus sp. nov., a hercolepadid from northeast Ohio, USA, and Hannestheronia australis gen. et sp. nov., a strobilepid from South Africa. Using the results from a Bayesian relaxed molecular clock to test competing scenarios of the relationship of multiplacophorans to crown group polyplacophorans, we demonstrate that multiplacophorans are stem group polyplacophorans in which certain characters of the crown group evolved convergently.