Citation: Sandvik, H. (2006) An inordinate fondness for Mecopteriformia. Systematics and Biodiversity, 4, 381–384.

doi: 10.1017/S1477200006002167 [what’s a doi?].

Key words: Arthropoda, Coleoptera, largest animal taxon, Metazoa, phylogenetic-comparative method, species richness.

The article’s Fig 1Abstract: What is the largest animal taxon? The most famous answer to this question has been given by Haldane who coined the phrase that "the Creator has an inordinate fondness for beetles". Although much cited, this statement has never been tested. Other experts have suggested other candidates for the largest animal taxon, all of which included the beetles as a subordinate group. I here outline a novel phylogenetic-comparative method that can address the question in a testable way. The result of applying the algorithm to the Metazoa is astonishing: the largest animal taxon is neither beetles nor a taxon super- or subordinated to beetles, but the Mecopteriformia.

Full text: © 2006 The Natural History Museum. If you accept (i) that further reproduction, and all further use other than for personal research, is subject to permission from the publisher (Cambridge University Press), and (ii) that printouts have to be made on recycled paper, you may download the article here (pdf, 0.1 MB).

Response: The article has been recommended by the Faculty of 1000:
– Siva-Jothy, M. (2007) J.B.S. Haldane was wrong (maybe)! Faculty of 1000 Biology, 31 August, 1089581.


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