Molecular phylogenetic evidence confirming the Eulipotyphla concept and in support of hedgehogs as the sister group to shrews

Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2002 Oct;25(1):200-9. doi: 10.1016/s1055-7903(02)00232-4.


For more than a century, living insectivore-like mammals have been viewed as little removed from the ancestral mammalian stock based on their retention of numerous primitive characteristics. This circumstance has made "insectivores" a group of special interest in the study of mammalian evolution. included hedgehogs, moles, shrews, solenodons, golden moles, tenrecs, flying lemurs, tree shrews, and elephant shrews in Insectivora. Subsequently, morphologists excluded flying lemurs, tree shrews, and elephant shrews from Insectivora and placed these taxa in the orders Dermoptera, Scandentia, and Macroscelidea, respectively. The remaining insectivores constitute Lipotyphla, which is monophyletic based on morphology. In contrast, molecular data suggest that lipotyphlans are polyphyletic, with golden moles and tenrecs placed in their own order (Afrosoricida) in the superordinal group Afrotheria. Studies based on nuclear genes support the monophyly of the remaining lipotyphlans (=Eulipotyphla) whereas mitochondrial genome studies dissociate hedgehogs from moles and place the former as the first offshoot on the placental tree. One shortcoming of previous molecular studies investigating lipotyphlan relationships is limited taxonomic sampling. Here, we evaluate lipotyphlan relationships using the largest and taxonomically most diverse data set yet assembled for Lipotyphla. Our results provide convincing support for both lipotyphlan diphyly and the monophyly of Eulipotyphla. More surprisingly, we find strong evidence for a sister-group relationship between shrews and hedgehogs to the exclusion of moles.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics
  • DNA / chemistry
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Eulipotyphla / classification
  • Eulipotyphla / genetics*
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Eye Proteins*
  • Hedgehogs / classification
  • Hedgehogs / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny*
  • RNA, Ribosomal / genetics
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • RNA, Transfer, Val / genetics
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2 / genetics
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Shrews / classification
  • Shrews / genetics*
  • von Willebrand Factor / genetics


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • Eye Proteins
  • RNA, Ribosomal
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S
  • RNA, Transfer, Val
  • RNA, ribosomal, 12S
  • Receptors, Adrenergic, alpha-2
  • Retinol-Binding Proteins
  • interstitial retinol-binding protein
  • von Willebrand Factor
  • DNA

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF496636
  • GENBANK/AY121754
  • GENBANK/AY121755
  • GENBANK/AY121756
  • GENBANK/AY121757
  • GENBANK/AY121758
  • GENBANK/AY121759
  • GENBANK/AY121760
  • GENBANK/AY121761
  • GENBANK/AY121762
  • GENBANK/AY121763
  • GENBANK/AY121764
  • GENBANK/AY121765
  • GENBANK/AY121766
  • GENBANK/AY121767
  • GENBANK/AY121768
  • GENBANK/AY121769
  • GENBANK/AY121770
  • GENBANK/AY121771
  • GENBANK/AY121772