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Genes Genet Syst. 2003 Aug;78(4):267-83.

Time scale of eutherian evolution estimated without assuming a constant rate of molecular evolution.

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The Institute of Statistical Mathematics, Minato.ku, Tokyo, Japan.


Controversies over the molecular clock hypothesis were reviewed. Since it is evident that the molecular clock does not hold in an exact sense, accounting for evolution of the rate of molecular evolution is a prerequisite when estimating divergence times with molecular sequences. Recently proposed statistical methods that account for this rate variation are overviewed and one of these procedures is applied to the mitochondrial protein sequences and to the nuclear gene sequences from many mammalian species in order to estimate the time scale of eutherian evolution. This Bayesian method not only takes account of the variation of molecular evolutionary rate among lineages and among genes, but it also incorporates fossil evidence via constraints on node times. With denser taxonomic sampling and a more realistic model of molecular evolution, this Bayesian approach is expected to increase the accuracy of divergence time estimates.

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