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Mol Biol Evol. 1989 Nov;6(6):580-612.

A molecular view of primate phylogeny and important systematic and evolutionary questions.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Wayne State University.


Phylogenetic analysis of extensive nucleotide sequence data from primate beta-globin gene clusters elucidates the systematics and evolution of the order Primates and reveals that rates of accumulation of mutations vary by as much as a factor of seven among different primate lineages. The picture of primate phylogeny from DNA sequences clarifies many ambiguities of the morphological picture. In the molecular picture, dwarf and brown lemurs group together into superfamily Lemuroidea, Lemuroidea and Lorisoidea into suborder Strepsirhini, and Tarsius and Anthropoidea into suborder Haplorhini. The molecular picture also provides both significant evidence for a human-chimpanzee clade that narrowly excludes gorilla and overwhelming evidence for the gorilla-chimpanzee-human clade within Hominoidea. Rates of DNA sequence evolution appear to have been fastest in the early primates ancestral to Anthropoidea and next fastest on the lorisoid branch. Rates were slowest over the past 25 Myr of hominoid descent, suggesting that mechanisms lowering the mutation rate evolved in correlation with lengthened life spans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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