Thursday, 18 October 2012

Generation times in wild chimpanzees and gorillas suggest earlier divergence times in great ape and human evolution.

Langergraber, K.E., Prüfer, K., Rowney, C., Boesch, C., Crockford, C., Fawcett, K., Inoue, E., Inoue-Muruyama, M., Mitani, J.C., Muller, M.N., Robbins, M.M., Schubert, G., Stoinski, T.S., Viola, B., Watts, D., Wittig, R.M., Wrangham, R.W., Zuberbühler, K., Pääbo, S., Vigilant, L., 2012. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

This paper uses chimpanzee, gorilla and human generation times and new estimates of the average human mutation rate (based on parent-child trios) to estimate the chimp-human divergence time as occurring ~7-13mya, which is more inline with fossil-based indications than previous genetic-based divergence times of ~4-6mya.  Furthermore, the authors calculate the Neanderthal-AMH divergence as ~400-700kya (versus previous genetic-based estimates of ~200-400ky), which again is more inline with fossils such as Sima de Los Huesos and Swancombe, which already seem to show Neanderthal-like traits at ~600ky (although this early date is debated) and ~400ky respectively.

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