, Volume 126, Issue 5, pp 719-724
Date: 08 Oct 2009

A comment on the paper: Extended Y chromosome haplotypes resolve multiple and unique lineages of the Jewish Priesthood by M.F. Hammer, D.M. Behar, T.M. Karafet, F.L. Mendez, B. Hallmark, T. Erez, L.A. Zhivotovsky, S. Rosset, K. Skorecki, Hum Genet, published online 8 August 2009

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The cited paper is remarkable with respect to haplogroups and haplotypes typing and the large number of individuals tested, including Cohanim, which is the prime target of the study. However, it is open to critique regarding calculations of time spans to common ancestors of presented series of haplotypes.

First, the authors have employed an inadequate methodology for the calculations, namely the infamous “population mutation rates” of 0.00069 mutation/marker/generation. It should not have been used in the first place. More adequate procedures have been developed lately. Second, the authors have not defined criteria when the “population” and when the “pedigree”, or the “genealogical” mutation rates, should be used. As a result, they have applied the “population” mutation rate to “genealogical” haplotype series, which increased their “TMRCA”, i.e., a time span to common ancestors, by about 300%. Third, they have not analyzed genealogical lineages with recent common ancestors (such as 500–