iPhone app shows your common ancestors

Updated - November 28, 2021 09:37 pm IST

Published - September 26, 2010 05:34 pm IST - London

A new iPhone application, TimeTree, permits you to see how long ago you shared a common ancestor with any species. The application was developed by scientists, including one of Indian origin, at Penn State University in the US.

A circular ‘Tree of Life’ image shows the route life has taken from its single source to the 1,610 taxonomic families that exist — containing between seven and 100 million individual species.

Users enter the names of any two species or families, and TimeTree will tell how long ago their common ancestor lived, the Telegraph reported.

So, humans and their fellow mammals and, say, flatfish are pinpointed as sharing a common ancestor 495 million years ago.

Humans and their fellow Old Word primates split from the New World monkeys at 44.2 million years ago, humans and rest of the apes from monkeys 30.4 million years ago, while humans and chimpanzees went their separate ways a mere eight million years in the past.

All of that is dwarfed by the split between archaea (group of single-celled micro-organisms) and all other life, which happened 3,833.3 million years ago — when the earth was just 700 million years old.

The free application — for the Apple iPhone and iPad — and accompanying website are the brainchild of Prof Blair Hodges of Penn State University and Sudhir Kumar, a PhD graduate of the same university now at Arizona State University.

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