A Comprehensive and dated phylogenomic analysis of butterflies
Butterflies (Papilionoidea), with over 18,000 described species , have captivated naturalists and scien- tists for centuries. They play a central role in the study of speciation, community ecology, biogeography, climate change, and plant-insect interactions and include many model organisms and pest species [2, 3]. However, a robust higher-level phylogenetic framework is lacking. To fill this gap, we inferred a dated phylogeny by analyzing the first phylogenomic dataset, including 352 loci (> 150,000 bp) from 207 species representing 98% of tribes, a 35-fold increase in gene sampling and 3-fold increase in taxon sam- pling over previous studies . Most data were gener- ated with a new anchored hybrid enrichment (AHE)  gene kit (BUTTERFLY1.0) that includes both new and frequently used (e.g., ) informative loci, enabling direct comparison and future dataset merg- ing with previous studies. Butterflies originated around 119 million years ago (mya) in the late Cretaceous, but most extant lineages diverged after the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) mass-extinction 65 mya. Our analyses support swallowtails (Papil- ionidae) as sister to all other butterflies, followed by skippers (Hesperiidae) + the nocturnal butterflies (Hedylidae) as sister to the remainder, indicating a secondary reversal from diurnality to nocturnality. The whites (Pieridae) were strongly supported as sister to brush-footed butterflies (Nymphalidae) and blues + metalmarks (Lycaenidae and Riodinidae). Ant association independently evolved once in Lycae- nidae and twice in Riodinidae. This study overturns prior notions of the taxon’s evolutionary history, as many long-recognized subfamilies and tribes are para- or polyphyletic. It also provides a much-needed backbone for a revised classification of butterflies and for future comparative studies including genome evolution and ecology.