Special Viewpoints

Dating the Tree of Life

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Science  13 Jun 2003:
Vol. 300, Issue 5626, pp. 1698-1700
DOI: 10.1126/science.1077795

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The relative merits of molecular and paleontological dates of major branching points in the tree of life are currently debated. In some cases, molecular date estimates are up to twice as old as paleontological dates. However, although it is true that paleontological dates are often too young (missing fossils), molecular dates are often too old (statistical bias). Intense study of the dating of major splits in the tree of mammals has shown rapprochement as fossil dates become older and molecular dates become younger.

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