Great ape genetic diversity and population history

Another step sorting out the evolutionary history of humans and other great apes, reported in Nature. For the study, 79 wild- and captive-born individuals representing all six great ape species and seven subspecies were sequenced. The results don’t seem particularly surprising

We find extensive inbreeding in almost all wild populations, with eastern gorillas being the most extreme. Inferred effective population sizes have varied radically over time in different lineages and this appears to have a profound effect on the genetic diversity at, or close to, genes in almost all species. We discover and assign 1,982 loss-of-function variants throughout the human and great ape lineages, determining that the rate of gene loss has not been different in the human branch compared to other internal branches in the great ape phylogeny.

(from the abstract), but it’s interesting to see genetic estimates of population sizes over time as well estimates of divergence times.

nature12228-f2.2

Figure: Population splits and effective population sizes (Ne) during great ape evolution. CC (Attribution-Noncommercial 2.5). For details click on figure.

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