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, 97 (8), 1296-303

The Age and Diversification of the Angiosperms Re-Revisited


The Age and Diversification of the Angiosperms Re-Revisited

Charles D Bell et al. Am J Bot.


Premise of the study: It has been 8 years since the last comprehensive analysis of divergence times across the angiosperms. Given recent methodological improvements in estimating divergence times, refined understanding of relationships among major angiosperm lineages, and the immense interest in using large angiosperm phylogenies to investigate questions in ecology and comparative biology, new estimates of the ages of the major clades are badly needed. Improved estimations of divergence times will concomitantly improve our understanding of both the evolutionary history of the angiosperms and the patterns and processes that have led to this highly diverse clade. •

Methods: We simultaneously estimated the age of the angiosperms and the divergence times of key angiosperm lineages, using 36 calibration points for 567 taxa and a "relaxed clock" methodology that does not assume any correlation between rates, thus allowing for lineage-specific rate heterogeneity. •

Key results: Based on the analysis for which we set fossils to fit lognormal priors, we obtained an estimated age of the angiosperms of 167-199 Ma and the following age estimates for major angiosperm clades: Mesangiospermae (139-156 Ma); Gunneridae (109-139 Ma); Rosidae (108-121 Ma); Asteridae (101-119 Ma). •

Conclusions: With the exception of the age of the angiosperms themselves, these age estimates are generally younger than other recent molecular estimates and very close to dates inferred from the fossil record. We also provide dates for all major angiosperm clades (including 45 orders and 335 families [208 stem group age only, 127 both stem and crown group ages], sensu APG III). Our analyses provide a new comprehensive source of reference dates for major angiosperm clades that we hope will be of broad utility.

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