Rate variation during molecular evolution: creationism and the cytochrome c molecular clock

By Dr. James Robert Hofmann

Published on-line inEvolution Education and Outreach 10(1) · 2017

Molecular clocks based upon amino acid sequences in proteins have played a major role in the clarification of evolutionary phylogenies. Creationist criticisms of these methods sometimes rely upon data that might initially seem to be paradoxical. For example, human cytochrome c differs from that of an alligator by 13 amino acids but differs by 14 amino acids from a much more closely related primate, Otolemur garnettii. The apparent anomaly is resolved by taking into consideration the variable substitution rate of cytochrome c, particularly among primates. This paper traces some of the history of extensive research into the topic of rate heterogeneity in cytochrome c including data from cytochrome c pseudogenes.

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