What website will give the last common ancestor of two species?
September 10, 2010 1:31 AM   Subscribe

Is there a website out there where I can enter the names of two species and be given the approximate date when their last common ancestor lived? Bonus points if it tells me what sort of species this ancestor probably was, and for showing me the part of the tree of life relating to these species. Thanks!
posted by chorltonmeateater to Science & Nature (6 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
You can usually figure it by looking around on Wikipedia a bit (at least figure out when the two main groups diverged)

Hmm, I googled "tree of life dataset" and came up with this site, but it looks like you need an account. Apparently the scientific term is a "Phylogenetic Tree"
posted by delmoi at 2:00 AM on September 10, 2010

Try the American Museum of Natural History's Cladogram, aka 'tree of life'.
posted by From Bklyn at 2:02 AM on September 10, 2010

Time Tree sounds like exactly what you are looking for.
posted by primer_dimer at 3:11 AM on September 10, 2010 [24 favorites]

Time Tree is indeed exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!
posted by chorltonmeateater at 3:25 AM on September 10, 2010

Can anyone explain exactly how to read the results from Time Tree? What are the units for the Time column? What is the meaning of the # Genes column?
posted by tdismukes at 1:32 PM on September 10, 2010

Time is in millions of years.

I suspect that # genes is the number of genes in that study that support that time of divergence; this may be somewhat less than the total number of genes looked at in a given study, if some of those genes are uninformative (e.g. identical in your two species). I say this because I checked a few of the papers listed as results for my search, and the # genes column didn't correspond 1:1 with the total number of genes used in the study. I haven't read through enough of the papers to confirm my suspicion, but it seems reasonable.
posted by pemberkins at 7:45 AM on September 11, 2010

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