Constraining the Deep Origin of Parasitic Flatworms and Host-Interactions with Fossil Evidence

Kenneth De Baets, Paula Dentzien-Dias, Ieva Upeniece, Olivier Verneau, Philip C J Donoghue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


Novel fossil discoveries have contributed to our understanding of the evolutionary appearance of parasitism in flatworms. Furthermore, genetic analyses with greater coverage have shifted our views on the coevolution of parasitic flatworms and their hosts. The putative record of parasitic flatworms is consistent with extant host associations and so can be used to put constraints on the evolutionary origin of the parasites themselves. The future lies in new molecular clock analyses combined with additional discoveries of exceptionally preserved flatworms associated with hosts and coprolites. Besides direct evidence, the host fossil record and biogeography have the potential to constrain their evolutionary history, albeit with caution needed to avoid circularity, and a need for calibrations to be implemented in the most conservative way. This might result in imprecise, but accurate divergence estimates for the evolution of parasitic flatworms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)93-135
Number of pages43
JournalAdvances in Parasitology
Early online date17 Jul 2015
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Calibration
  • Cestoda
  • Coevolution
  • Coprolite
  • Evolutionary history
  • Fossil record
  • Molecular clock
  • Mollusca
  • Monogenea
  • Neodermata
  • Pathology
  • Platyhelminthes
  • Platyzoa
  • Trematoda
  • Vertebrates


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