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Mol Biol Evol. 1997 Feb;14(2):195-9.

Estimating the age of the common ancestor of a sample of DNA sequences.

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  • 1Human Genetics Center, School of Public Health, University of Texas at Houston 77225, USA.


We present a simple Monte Carlo method for estimating the age of the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of a sample of DNA sequences. We show that Templeton's (1993) estimator of the age of the MRCA based on the maximum number of nucleotide differences between two sequences in a sample is inaccurate, and we demonstrate the new method by reanalyzing a sample of DNA sequences from human Y chromosomes and a sample of human Alu sequences.

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