Original paper

Cladistics in ammonoids: back to the future

Bardin, Jérémie; Rouget, Isabelle; Cecca, Fabrizio


Cladistics appears as one of the most useful method to reconstruct phylogeny of fossil taxa. However, ammonoids workers tend to sulk this method. The capital step of cladistic analysis is the recognition of homology hypothesis as clue to reconstruct monophyletic clades based on the sharing of derived traits. Previous authors have suggested that coding schemes are usually direct transcription of original taxa description. However, establishing a list of characters (i.e. a matrix taxa/characters) is a very different work compared to a compilation of diagnoses. How morphology is coded in ammo- noids? How coding schemes are influenced by traditional descriptions/characters? Here, we review all cladistic analyses of ammonoids published in the literature to compare characters and the way authors have dealt with the treatment of continuous characters, polymorphism and ontogeny. Several barriers are usually invoked to justify that cladistics cannot be applied to reconstruct ammonoids phylogenies. We show that an appropriate use of improvements both on ammonoids' knowledge and cladistics methodology may overcome limitations usually invoked to perform cladistic analysis on ammonoids.