Molecular and Genomic Data Identify the Closest Living Relative of Primates

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Science  02 Nov 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5851, pp. 792-794
DOI: 10.1126/science.1147555

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A full understanding of primate morphological and genomic evolution requires the identification of their closest living relative. In order to resolve the ancestral relationships among primates and their closest relatives, we searched multispecies genome alignments for phylogenetically informative rare genomic changes within the superordinal group Euarchonta, which includes the orders Primates, Dermoptera (colugos), and Scandentia (treeshrews). We also constructed phylogenetic trees from 14 kilobases of nuclear genes for representatives from most major primate lineages, both extant colugos, and multiple treeshrews, including the pentail treeshrew, Ptilocercus lowii, the only living member of the family Ptilocercidae. A relaxed molecular clock analysis including Ptilocercus suggests that treeshrews arose approximately 63 million years ago. Our data show that colugos are the closest living relatives of primates and indicate that their divergence occurred in the Cretaceous.

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