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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Aug 1969; 63(4): 1088–1093.
PMCID: PMC223432

A MOLECULAR TIME SCALE FOR HUMAN EVOLUTION*

Abstract

We discuss published molecular evidence concerning the relationship of man to African apes and Old World monkeys. Quantitative comparisons of their serum albumins, transferrins, hemoglobins, and DNA show that man is genetically much more similar to the African apes than to the Old World monkeys.

The amino acid sequences of hemoglobins from humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and rhesus monkeys are consistent with the hypothesis that the probability of an amino acid substitution occurring in a given interval of time is the same for every hemoglobin lineage. This allows the use of these data as a hemoglobin evolutionary clock, just as we have previously done with the albumins. It is shown that concordance exists between the hemoglobin and albumin results and that both support the suggestion that the human lineage diverged from that leading to the African apes far more recently than is generally supposed. Considering both the albumin and hemoglobin data, we would set the most probable date at 4 to 5 million years.

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Selected References

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