MP trees are most accurate when compatibility is high relative to the number of sampled taxa, which in turn tends to be highest among vertebrates, followed by echinoderms; trilobites and mollusks typically rank lower, with brachiopods ranking lowest. Correspondingly, simulations show that vertebrate-based matrices yield the MP trees for which over 90% of the inferred clades match real clades, and for which nearly 20% of matrices have MP trees matching the true tree. Echinoderm-based matrices yield MP trees in which nearly 90% of clades match real clades; this drops to ~80% for both trilobite- and mollusk-based matrices, and 75% for brachiopod-based matrices. Within vertebrates, dinosaur-based matrices yield the most accurate MP trees, followed closely by mammals; fish-based matrices yield the least accurate MP trees. Notably, mammal-based data sets based largely on teeth yield worse MP trees than those based on skeletal characters. These results are consistent both with familiarity breeding accuracy and more challenging underlying evolutionary models for particular groups and character systems.
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