Newsletter of the Association for the Study of Language In Prehistory

Issue 25 · Summer 1995

Mutation Rate Slower for Hominids?

Wen-Hsiung Li (U/Texas-Houston) has found that mutation rates, at least at nucleotide sites, go slower for humans (1.2 changes per billion years) than Old World monkeys (1.8 ...) and New World Monkeys (2.1 ...). All are faster than rats (4.8 ...). Morris Goodman who has proposed that such would be the case was delighted, while Vince Sarich was unhappy initially at least. I wonder if the size of the animal makes any difference, since there is a size progression from rats to Romans.

One is reminded of the earlier discussions of Bushmen mutation rates where some proposed that the mutation rates were faster for bush people than for others, thus denying the genetic divergence of the Khoi and the San. If Wen-Hsiung Li is right, then Bushmen are even more divergent than thought.

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(c) 1996 Association for the Study of Language In Prehistory