Bayesian Support for Evolution: Detecting Phylogenetic Signal in a Subset of the Primate Family

  • Patricio Maturana RusselEmail author
Conference paper
Part of the Springer Proceedings in Mathematics & Statistics book series (PROMS, volume 239)


The theory of evolution states that the diversity of species can be explained by descent with modification. Therefore, all living beings are related through a common ancestor. This evolutionary process must have left traces in our molecular composition. In this work, we present a randomization procedure in order to determine if a group of five species of the primate family, namely, macaque, guereza, orangutan, chimpanzee, and human, has retained these traces in its molecules. First, we present the randomization methodology through two toy examples, which allow to understand its logic. We then carry out a DNA data analysis to assess if the group of primates contains phylogenetic information which links them in a joint evolutionary history. This is carried out by monitoring a Bayesian measure, called marginal likelihood, which we estimate by using nested sampling. We found that it would be unusual to get the relationship observed in the data among these primate species if they had not shared a common ancestor. The results are in total agreement with the theory of evolution.


Phylogenetic signal Randomization Marginal likelihood Nested sampling 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of StatisticsUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand

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