Molecular Phylogeny and Dating of Early Primate Divergences

  • Eduardo Eizirik
  • William J. Murphy
  • Mark S. Springer
  • Stephen J. O’Brien


Rapid evolutionary radiations characterize many higher-level taxa. This pattern of diversification poses a challenge for accurate phylogenetic reconstruction, since the few synapomorphies defining short internal branches are often overwritten over long periods of evolutionary time, making determination of homology difficult and rendering the outgroup method of rooting prone to error for both molecular and morphological systematic investigations (Carroll, 1988; Novacek, 1992; Swofford et al., 1996). These issues can be addressed and hopefully overcome by employing comprehensive taxon sampling, large numbers of characters, multiple data sets (derived from different sources), and diverse inferential techniques. In spite of being limited to samples of only living or recently extinct taxa, molecular data have great potential to help decipher the pattern and timing of rapid and ancient radiations. Specifically, they provide a means to collect larger numbers of phylogenetic characters than most morphological data matrices, and present a simpler and better understood mode of evolution that can be currently modeled within a maximum likelihood (ML) framework (e.g., Goldman et al., 2000; Swofford et al., 1996; Whelan et al., 2001).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eduardo Eizirik
    • 1
  • William J. Murphy
    • 1
  • Mark S. Springer
    • 2
  • Stephen J. O’Brien
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratory of Genomic DiversityNational Cancer InstituteFrederickUSA
  2. 2.Department of BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaRiversideUSA

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