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Oxford University Press

The Evolution of Pharyngognathy: A Phylogenetic and Functional Appraisal of the Pharyngeal Jaw Key Innovation in Labroid Fishes and Beyond

Overview of attention for article published in Systematic Biology, June 2012
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (80th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (84th percentile)

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The Evolution of Pharyngognathy: A Phylogenetic and Functional Appraisal of the Pharyngeal Jaw Key Innovation in Labroid Fishes and Beyond
Published in
Systematic Biology, June 2012
DOI 10.1093/sysbio/sys060
Pubmed ID

Peter C. Wainwright, W. Leo Smith, Samantha A. Price, Kevin L. Tang, John S. Sparks, Lara A. Ferry, Kristen L. Kuhn, Ron I. Eytan, Thomas J. Near


The perciform group Labroidei includes approximately 2600 species and comprises some of the most diverse and successful lineages of teleost fishes. Composed of four major clades, Cichlidae, Labridae (wrasses, parrotfishes, and weed whitings), Pomacentridae (damselfishes), and Embiotocidae (surfperches); labroids have been an icon for studies of biodiversity, adaptive radiation, and sexual selection. The success and diversification of labroids have been largely attributed to the presence of a major innovation in the pharyngeal jaw apparatus, pharyngognathy, which is hypothesized to increase feeding capacity and versatility. We present results of large-scale phylogenetic analyses and a survey of pharyngeal jaw functional morphology that allow us to examine the evolution of pharyngognathy in a historical context. Phylogenetic analyses were based on a sample of 188 acanthomorph (spiny-rayed fish) species, primarily percomorphs (perch-like fishes), and DNA sequence data collected from 10 nuclear loci that have been previously used to resolve higher level ray-finned fish relationships. Phylogenies inferred from this dataset using maximum likelihood, Bayesian, and species tree analyses indicate polyphyly of the traditional Labroidei and clearly separate Labridae from the remainder of the traditional labroid lineages (Cichlidae, Embiotocidae, and Pomacentridae). These three "chromide" families grouped within a newly discovered clade of 40 families and more than 4800 species (>27% of percomorphs and >16% of all ray-finned fishes), which we name Ovalentaria for its characteristic demersal, adhesive eggs with chorionic filaments. This fantastically diverse clade includes some of the most species-rich lineages of marine and freshwater fishes, including all representatives of the Cichlidae, Embiotocidae, Pomacentridae, Ambassidae, Gobiesocidae, Grammatidae, Mugilidae, Opistognathidae, Pholidichthyidae, Plesiopidae (including Notograptus), Polycentridae, Pseudochromidae, Atherinomorpha, and Blennioidei. Beyond the discovery of Ovalentaria, this study provides a surprising, but well-supported, hypothesis for a convict-blenny (Pholidichthys) sister group to the charismatic cichlids and new insights into the evolution of pharyngognathy. Bayesian stochastic mapping ancestral state reconstructions indicate that pharyngognathy has evolved at least six times in percomorphs, including four separate origins in members of the former Labroidei, one origin in the Centrogenyidae, and one origin within Beloniformes. Our analyses indicate that all pharyngognathous fishes have a mechanically efficient biting mechanism enabled by the muscular sling and a single lower jaw element. However, a major distinction exists between Labridae, which lacks the widespread, generalized percomorph pharyngeal biting mechanism, and all other pharyngognathous clades, which possess this generalized biting mechanism in addition to pharyngognathy. Our results reveal a remarkable history of pharyngognathy: far from a single origin, it appears to have evolved at least six times, and its status as a major evolutionary innovation is reinforced by it being a synapomorphy for several independent major radiations, including some of the most species rich and ecologically diverse percomorph clades of coral reef and tropical freshwater fishes, Labridae and Cichlidae. [Acanthomorpha; Beloniformes; Centrogenyidae; key innovation; Labroidei; Ovalentaria; pharyngeal jaws; Perciformes.].

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X Demographics

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Mendeley readers

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 273 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United States 12 4%
Germany 1 <1%
Norway 1 <1%
Australia 1 <1%
Brazil 1 <1%
Switzerland 1 <1%
Canada 1 <1%
United Kingdom 1 <1%
Japan 1 <1%
Other 1 <1%
Unknown 252 92%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Ph. D. Student 64 23%
Researcher 53 19%
Student > Master 36 13%
Student > Bachelor 27 10%
Student > Doctoral Student 16 6%
Other 44 16%
Unknown 33 12%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 181 66%
Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology 19 7%
Environmental Science 14 5%
Earth and Planetary Sciences 9 3%
Social Sciences 3 1%
Other 11 4%
Unknown 36 13%
Attention Score in Context

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 7. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 21 November 2023.
All research outputs
of 26,017,215 outputs
Outputs from Systematic Biology
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Outputs of similar age
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Outputs of similar age from Systematic Biology
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Altmetric has tracked 26,017,215 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done well and is in the 79th percentile: it's in the top 25% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 1,924 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 11.5. This one has gotten more attention than average, scoring higher than 62% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 181,304 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done well, scoring higher than 80% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 13 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 84% of its contemporaries.