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How could we compare the extent of evolution between two species?
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16 months ago
johnnytam100 • 100

I have a question in mind and would like to gain insights from biostars members.

As the title, for example, if we compare human and a bacteria, generally we will accept a bacteria is 'less evolved' or 'more ancient' or 'more primitive' than human.

Then now I have two bacteria, how could we compare the extent of evolution between the two bacteria species?

And after more thought, I have some more questions:

1) What is the actual evidence for us to put forward 'bacteria is less evolved than human' apart from just stating the concept of evolution that we think more complex species are originated from less complex species?

2) Is it technically impossible to distinguish the extent of evolution if two species are too closely related?

3) Then following question 2), what is our 'best resolution' to compare the extent of evolution between any two species?

I look forward to your reply.

evolution • 201 views
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I think you need to clarify what you mean by evolution/‘evolved’.

One could argue that a single SNP difference between 2 otherwise identical/closely related genomes is still ‘evolution’.

The reasons we consider ourselves less primitive than bacteria are many fold, but that is not the same as saying we are more evolved. Every organism on the planet is maximally evolved for its environment at any given time.

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Inspiring! I feel exactly the same here that I am mixing up things... If I rephrase my question into a purely technical question: is there a pre-built phylogenetic tree for 16s RNA for all sequenced species?

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I’m not sure personally, someone else may know, but a good place to start looking would be the interactive Tree of Life

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