What is Molecular Clock?
Therefore, 1% differences among African hominoids represents one sixth of 30, or 5. Sarich and Wilson were then able to deduce that humans, chimpanzees and gorillas had a common ancestor about 5 mya. The 14 million years old Ramapithecus could not have been a hominid. These finding were first reported in 1967 as controversial.
Many paleontologists insisted that dental morphology of Ramapithecus proved it to be hominid, denying validity of molecular clocks and rejected a 5 million year ape human divergence as being too recent. Subsequently, more molecular data supported the idea of a 5 million year divergence. Fossil bones indicated Ramapithecus was a tree living ape, not a upright walking human. Hominid fossils, 3 to 4 million years old, are very like chimpanzees.
The 5 million year estimate for common ancestor of apes and humans fits with current hominid fossil record. Fossils tell us when and where ancient ancestors lived and they might have looked alike. Molecular data provide quantitative information on species relationships and estimates of when in the past the lineages diverged. These two kinds of information, paleontological and molecular, are complementary, not contradictory and both are essential for reconstructing evolutionary history.