Monday, 5 January 2015

Research Reveals Serious Defects in Molecular Clocks

Molecular clocks are nowhere near as accurate as this timepiece. Image courtesy of Alves Gaspar, Wikipedia.

Joel Kontinen

A report recently published by ScienceDaily suggests once again that molecular clocks that are often used to date purported ancestors of today’s species are anything but accurate:

Molecular clocks -- based on changes in genetic material -- indicate much younger ages for a wide variety of plants found as fossils in southern Argentina than do the solid, geologic dates of those fossils, according to geoscientists who surveyed recent paleobotanical discoveries in Patagonia.

The inaccuracy of the molecular clocks in this study raises new doubts about the accuracy of clock dates for many other organisms, from animals to human pathogens

Other research has indicated that radiometric methods are anything but accurate.

Radiometric dating methods and the molecular clock approach should in principle give identical dates or at least dates that are in the same ballpark.

In reality, they often vary so much that researchers are beginning to suspect that one of them has to be incorrect.

But which is it? Both approaches rely on the assumption that evolution of the Darwinian variety has occurred or that certain species have a common ancestor.

They are also based on the belief that our world is billions of years old. It is an assumption that cannot be measured directly as radiometric methods only give isotope rations that have to be interpreted.

Thus, the take-home message of this and related research is that both molecular clocks and dating methods give precise dates that, as nuclear physicist Dr. Jim Mason put it, can be “precisely wrong”.


Turn back the molecular clock, say Argentina's plant fossils. Science Daily December 2, 2014.