The genetic ‘clock’
Recently, a research team has suggested that the rate of mutation of human beings and our ancestors may not be as quickly as once thought. If they are right, the ‘last common ancestor’ (LCA) of various lineages of the hominin and ape family tree may be older than previously expected from the genetic data. The new approach is controversial, however, as it would push back the dates for the LCA for various primate clades so far that they would be far out of alignment with archaeological data. What are some of the debates about using a ‘genetic clock’? Why might mutation rates change?
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