DNA hybridization evidence of hominoid phylogeny: results from an expanded data set

J Mol Evol. 1987;26(1-2):99-121. doi: 10.1007/BF02111285.


The living hominoids are human, the two species of chimpanzees, gorilla, orangutan, and nine species of gibbons. The cercopithecoids (Old World monkeys) are the sister group of the hominoids. A consensus about the phylogeny of the hominoids has been reached for the branching order of the gibbons (earliest) and the orangutan (next earliest), but the branching order among gorilla, chimpanzees, and human remains in contention. In 1984 we presented DNA-DNA hybridization data, based on 183 DNA hybrids, that we interpreted as evidence that the branching order, from oldest to most recent, was gibbons, orangutan, gorilla, chimpanzees, and human. In the present paper we report on an expanded data set totaling 514 DNA hybrids, which supports the branching order given above. The ranges for the datings of divergence nodes are Old World monkeys, 25-34 million years (Myr) ago; gibbons, 16.4-23 Myr ago; orangutan, 12.2-17 Myr ago; gorilla, 7.7-11 Myr ago; chimpanzees-human, 5.5-7.7 Myr ago. The possible effects of differences in age at first breeding are discussed, and some speculations about average genomic rates of evolution are presented.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cercopithecidae / genetics
  • DNA / genetics*
  • Gorilla gorilla / genetics
  • Haplorhini / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Hylobates / genetics
  • Models, Genetic
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Pan troglodytes / genetics
  • Phylogeny*
  • Pongo pygmaeus / genetics
  • Species Specificity


  • DNA