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Evolutionary affinities of the unfathomable Parabrotulidae: Molecular data indicate placement of Parabrotula within the family Bythitidae, Ophidiiformes

Campbell, Matthew A., Nielsen, Jørgen G., Sado, Tetsuya, Shinzato, Chuya, Kanda, Miyuki, Satoh, Takashi P., Miya, Masaki
Molecular phylogenetics and evolution 2017 v.109 pp. 337-342
Bythitidae, Parabrotula, Zoarcidae, body size, fins, fish, loci, phylogeny, vertebrae
Fishes are widely diverse in shape and body size and can quite rapidly undergo these changes. Consequently, some relationships are not clearly resolved with morphological analyses. In the case of fishes of small body size, informative characteristics can be absent due to simplification of body structures. The Parabrotulidae, a small family of diminutive body size consisting of two genera and three species has most recently been classified as either a perciform within the suborder Zoarcoidei or an ophidiiform. Classification of parabrotulids as ophidiiforms has become predominant; however the Parabrotulidae has not yet been investigated in a molecular phylogenetic framework. We examine molecular data from ten genetic loci to more specifically place the Parabrotulidae within the fish tree of life. In a hypothesis testing framework, the Parabrotulidae as a zoarcoid taxon is rejected. Previous identity with zoarcoids due to the one fin ray for each vertebra being present, a characteristic for the Zoarcidae, appears to be an example of convergence. Our results indicate that parabrotulids are viviparous ophidiiforms within the family Bythitidae.