15. Genetic Perspectives on Ape and Human Evolution

  1. David R. Begun
  1. Todd R. Disotell

Published Online: 14 JAN 2013

DOI: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch15

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

A Companion to Paleoanthropology

How to Cite

Disotell, T. R. (2013) Genetic Perspectives on Ape and Human Evolution, in A Companion to Paleoanthropology (ed D. R. Begun), Blackwell Publishing Ltd, Oxford. doi: 10.1002/9781118332344.ch15

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 JAN 2013
  2. Published Print: 25 FEB 2013

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781444331165

Online ISBN: 9781118332344



  • ape evolution;
  • DNA sequencing;
  • genetic data;
  • human evolution;
  • molecular data


This chapter discusses the genetic perspectives on ape and human evolution. The first genetic perspective on ape evolution and human evolution was put forth over 100 years ago. Two primary hypotheses have been put forth to explain modern human origins, multiregionalism and recent replacement. Molecular data have contributed enormously to the understanding of hominoid and hominin evolution. They provide information about how species are related, the timing of divergences and demographic history. The relative ease of determination of homology, compared to morphological traits, of molecular data, especially specific genomic regions such as Alu elements, makes phylogenetic inferences quite robust. With well-calibrated divergence points inferred from the better parts of the fossil record, molecular clock estimates for lineages with a poor fossil record can be made.