Relationships among the 18 extant species of parasitic lamprey (Petromyzontiformes) were determined using a cladistic analysis of 32 mainly morphological characters. Because previous analyses support all known fossils as phylogenetically older or the same age as living lampreys, a composite agnathan fossil was used as an outgroup. A consensus of three equally parsimonious trees revealed a trichotomy between a monophyletic northern hemisphere clade and the southern hemisphere genera Geotria and Mordacia. The monophyletic status of the northern hemisphere lampreys and their classification in a single family Petromyzontidae was corroborated. It is suggested that the two southern hemisphere lamprey genera be retained as distinct families. Among northern hemisphere species, Ichthyomyzon and Petromyzon form a monophyletic group sister to the remaining genera. Caspiomyzon is sister to Tetrapleurodon Entosphenus Lethenteron Eudontomyzon Lampetra, with Tetrapleurodon in turn being sister to a group comprising Entosphenus and a clade containing Lethenteron and its sister group Eudontomyzon Lampetra. Differences in many characters are related to differences in modes of feeding and behavior. In a phylogenetic context, dentitional characters are resolved as related either to blood feeding (Petromyzon, Ichthyomyzon, and Mordacia) and hypothesized to be plesiomorphic, or to flesh feeding (Eudontomyzon, Lampetra, and Geotria).
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