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Six Impossible Things before Breakfast: Assumptions, Models, and Belief in Molecular Dating
- Bromham, Lindell
- Trends in ecology & evolution 2019 v.34 no.5 pp. 474-486
- breakfast, fossils, models
- Confidence in molecular dating analyses has grown with the increasing sophistication of the methods. Some problematic cases where molecular dates disagreed with paleontological estimates appear to have been resolved with a growing agreement between molecules and fossils. But we cannot relax just yet. The growing analytical sophistication of many molecular dating methods relies on an increasingly large number of assumptions about evolutionary history and processes. Many of these assumptions are based on statistical tractability rather than being informed by improved understanding of molecular evolution, yet changing the assumptions can influence molecular dates. How can we tell if the answers we get are driven more by the assumptions we make than by the molecular data being analyzed?