What are molecular clocks?

1 Answer
Sep 29, 2016


The molecular clock is a technique that uses the mutation rate of biomolecules to deduce the time when two or more life forms diverged.


It measures the number of changes and mutations which accumulate in the gene sequence of different species over a period of time. Nucleotide sequences (for DNA) and amino acid sequences ( for RNA ) are used as bio molecular data.

Based on the fact that genetic mutations although random, occur at a relatively constant rate. Evolutionary biologists use this information to deduce how species evolve and determine when two species diverged on the evolutionary time line.

The molecular clock technique is an important tool in molecular systematics.
It also facilitates establishing the dates of phylogenetic events including those not documented by fossils.