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Reviewing neurophylogeny – advances since the turn of the millenium


Rudolf Lösel, Institute of Biology II (Zoology), RWTH Aachen University, Germany

Neuroanatomical studies have demonstrated that the architecture and organization of the central nervous system and the brain is highly conserved within the major animal clades. The morphology of nerve cells and their neuropilar arrangement provide robust characters for phylogenetic analyses. Characters that have been used for evolutionary considerations in e. g. arthropods are architectural features of major brain centers such as the optic lobe neuropils, the mushroom bodies, and the central complex. These studies agree with molecular phylogenies in demonstrating that crustaceans and hexapods together comprise the taxon Tetraconata. Another interesting finding is that the onychophoran brain shares striking similarities with the brain of chelicerates suggesting an archaic relationship of the onychophora with a chelicerate stem lineage. This talk will provide a brief summary on the history and concepts of a field that is now termed “neurophylogeny”. Recent advances in using neuroanatomical characters for resolving the animal tree of life will be highlighted.

Supported by DFG grant Lo 797/3-3.