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The Ecdysozoa are a large group of protostomian[?] animals, erected by Aguinaldo et al. in 1997 primarily based on 18s rRNA data. They are sometimes ranked as a superphylum. The name comes from the Greek words ecdysis (molting) and zoon (animal) after a character common to the group.

Phyla consider Ecdysozoa are:

The non-pararthropoda have sometimes been considered a monophyletic group, occasionally called the Cycloneuralia, but they are more likely paraphyletic. The rotifers and Chaetognatha have also been considered possible members. Gastrotrichs[?] are seen as a close sister taxon to the Ecdysozoa.

Besides the rRNA (and other nucleinic acid) sequencing data, some morphologic characters are common to the Ecdysozoa:

  • cuticle built of organic material
  • molting (ecdysis), initiated by hormones
  • trilayered cuticle

Further characters are

The Ecdysozoa concept resolves some morphologic problems like the occurrence of a triradiate muscular sucking pharynx in tardigrades (whose bauplan reminds strongly of arthropods) and roundworms.

The Ecdysozoa concept is contradictory to the more traditional Articulata[?] concept, where the Panarthropoda are combined to one taxon with the annelids. The annelids do not belong to Ecdysozoa but instead to the Trochozoa.

  • Aguinaldo, A. M. A., J. M. Turbeville, L. S. Linford, M. C. Rivera, J. R. Garey, R. A. Raff, & J. A. Lake, 1997. Evidence for a clade of nematodes, arthropods and other moulting animals. Nature 387: 489-493.

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