Molecular Evolution Activities

Documents on Molecular Evolution


Online Document

J. Buettner-Janusch and R. Hill, "Evolution of Hemoglobin in Primates," in Evolving Genes and Proteins, eds. V. Bryson and H. Vogel (New York: Academic Press, 1965). pp. 167-181
[Summary] [PDF 860K]

In this article, Buettner-Janusch and Hill set out to reconstruct Primate phylogenies by comparing the hemoglobin molecules of living species. In the course of their work, the authors strongly advocate an integrative approach to evolutionary biology in which neither organismal nor molecular data alone dominate. They especially caution that the use of molecular data alone, without an understanding of the organisms in which these molecules reside, can lead to nonsensical conclusions. For instance, they write that although the structure of the hemoglobins of man and gorilla are highly similar, this is "simply not a datum that is conclusive in systematics." Bearing these cautions in mind, they find that there is very little variation in the alpha-chain among the Primate species, but a great deal in the other chains. However, by comparing the number of amino acid substitutions to the date of evolutionary divergence gleaned from anthropological work, they determine that rates of molecular evolution vary for each hemoglobin chain differs considerably. This leads them to conclude that evolution at the molecular level is governed by selective forces, and is not neutral. (jda)


This page was written by Michael Dietrich and Jay Aronson. It was last updated on 23 April 2004.