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Evolution. 2004 Jun;58(6):1375-82.

Calibration age and quartet divergence date estimation.

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  • 1Department of Geoscience, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA.


The date of a single divergence point--between living alligators and crocodiles--was estimated with quartet dating using calibrations of widely divergent ages. For five mitochondrial sequence datasets, there is a clear relationship between calibration age and quartet estimate--quartets based on two relatively recent calibrations support younger divergence estimates than do quartets based on two older calibrations. Some of the estimates supported by young quartets are impossibly young and exclude the first appearance of the group in the fossil record as too old. The older estimates--those based on two relatively old calibrations--may be overestimates, and those based on one old and one recent calibration support divergence estimates very close to fossil data. This suggests that quartet dating methods may be most effective when calibrations are applied from different parts of a clade's history.

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