An evolutionary standard for dating key events in human evolution has been shown to be half off, even by their own assumptions.

In “Turning Back the Clock: Slowing the Pace of Prehistory,” Ann Gibbons reported in Science Magazine Oct 12 the bad news: “New work suggests that mutations arise more slowly in humans than previously thought, raising questions about the timetable of evolutionary events.” Since “timing is everything” in the scenario of human evolution, this clock reset has ripple effects throughout the whole story.

Now it seems that the molecular clock ticks more slowly than anyone had thought, and many dates may need to be adjusted. Over the past 3 years, researchers have used new methods to sequence whole human genomes, allowing them to measure directly, for the first time, the average rate at which new mutations arise in a newborn baby. Most of these studies conclude that the mutation rate in humans today is roughly half the rate that has been used in many evolutionary studies since 2000. “Together, these papers make a convincing case that the human sequence mutation rate is substantially less than the one previously used,” says Harvard University population geneticist David Reich, co-author of one recent study. “As a result, genetic estimates of dates for ancient events are going to be older than previously reported.”

As a result, timing of key evolutionary events is now “very murky,” according to London paleoanthropologist Chris Stringer.  John Hawks warned, “We can’t figure out how things happened if we don’t know when they happened.”

Gibbons mentioned other drawbacks with dates in human evolution: (1) the first appearance of a fossil may not represent the first appearance of the species; (2) “there are no fossils of our closest living relatives: chimps and gorillas”; (3) genes might diverge long before species do; and (4) mutation rates can differ between apes due to other factors, like generation time (years between generations).  Mutation rate is important to evolutionists, because “It is the raw material for all human evolution—for better or worse, because most new mutations are deleterious.”….

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