Dating Methods: Genetic

  • Simon Y. W. Ho
  • Phillip Endicott
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-51726-1_3332-1

Introduction

Human genomes contain the signatures of the evolutionary and demographic processes that shaped them. This includes information about the timescales over which these processes occurred. Using a tool known as the molecular clock, analyses of genetic data can produce estimates of the timing of divergence between species, major migrations in the past, and changes in population sizes. Molecular clocks can even be used to estimate the ages of ancient samples, such as those from ancient modern humans or archaic hominins. Collectively, these date estimates offer a valuable complement to the temporal information provided by archaeology and paleontology.

The molecular clock describes the relationship between genetic change and time. It relies on the fundamental assumption that mutations cause genomes to diverge gradually from each other. In its simplest form, the molecular clock assumes that the rate of genetic change has been constant through time and across populations and...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life and Environmental SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Départment Hommes Natures SociétésMusée de l’HommeParisFrance

Section editors and affiliations

  • Chen Shen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of World CulturesRoyal Ontario MuseumTorontoCanada