Dating a common ancestor

Time Tree is a website that allows you to search for the point in time at which the genetic code of two organisms diverged; the time at which their last common ancestor lived.

Investigating human beings is quite fun: the last common ancestor that we shared with chimpanzees lived 6.3 million years ago and we shared an ancestor with gorillas 8.6 million years ago. We are much closer to cats and dogs (95.2 million years ago) than we are to ducks (292 million years ago).

If we start to look at more obviously different organisms we find much older most recent common ancestors: we shared an ancestor with jellyfish 892 million years ago and with the northern red oak tree 1.43 billion years ago.

It isn’t just humans that you can find the most recent common ancestors for. Horses and camels shared an ancestor 84.2 million years ago and cats and dogs a mere 55.7 million years ago.

2 thoughts on “Dating a common ancestor

  1. I’m not really a biology teacher, so no, I haven’t used it in class, but I can imagine that it would be useful for biology teachers.

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