The last great ape* to be sequenced has been the bonobo, it complements the Homo sapiens, Neanderthal, Denisovan (probably a hybrid), chimpanzee, gorilla and orangutan genomes:
Kay Prüfer et al., The bonobo genome compared with the chimpanzee and human genomes. Nature 2012. Open access.
The reference genome was sequenced from a female bonobo captive at Leizpig Zoo, known as Ulundi.
The genome will, hopefully, help understand better the genetic basis of our being as humans and, maybe also get some inferences on our prehistory.
Stubbornly under-estimating divergence times by almost 100%
In this sense I want to emphasize that the paper insists in producing Pan-Homo and internal Pan divergence times that are irrationally low. The cause of this systematic error that persists through some literature seems to be rooted on the Homo-Pongo divergence estimate, which I do not know the details about but seems from context to be an extreme under-estimate.
The matter was already debated in 2008 by Jenniffer L. Caswell, who explained that the Bonobo-Chimpanzee split cannot be more recent than 1.5 to 2.0 million years because it was then when the Congo River was formed separating the two populations radically (allopatric speciation). This is quite apparent in the distribution of bonobos and chimpanzees:
So unless the geology is wrong, bonobos and chimpanzees diverged 1.5 to 2 million years ago, and not a mere million years ago, as this paper claims.
This has important implications for the Homo-Pan divergence age, as I have discussed again and again. Assuming that the 4.5:1 ration estimated in this paper is correct, then the actual Homo-Pan divergence age ranges between 6.8 to 9.0 million years ago (and not a mere 4.5 Ma), with a median of 7.9 Ma, quite similar to the 8 Ma estimate I have been defending since the Caswell paper was published in 2008.
- Category: bonobo at my old blog Leherensuge
- Category: bonobo at this blog
- Category: human evolution
- Molecular clock obscuring the real origin of primates
- Chimps and humans diverged 8 million years ago
* Note: I know someone will say that Homo sp. are not "apes" but I say Homo are a subset of the great apes clade (Hominidae) phylogenetically and therefore great apes ourselves - something to be irrationally proud of, of course.