Radiocarbon dating hominids

First they compare the DNA sequences of two individuals or species, counting the neutral differences that don’t alter one’s chances of survival and reproduction.Then, knowing the rate of these changes, they can calculate the time needed to accumulate that many differences.But in aggregate, over many generations, these changes lead to substantial evolutionary variation.Scientists can use mutations to estimate the timing of branches in our evolutionary tree.Most result from mistakes when DNA copies itself during cell division, although other types of mutations occur spontaneously or from exposure to hazards like radiation and chemicals.

Molecular clocks are based on two key biological processes that are the source of all heritable variation: mutation and recombination.Because mutations accumulate so slowly, this clock works better for very ancient events, like evolutionary splits between species.The recombination clock, on the other hand, ticks at a rate appropriate for dates within the last 100,000 years.This tells them how long it’s been since the individuals shared ancestors.Comparison of DNA between you and your sibling would show relatively few mutational differences because you share ancestors – mom and dad – just one generation ago.

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