Testing the new generation of molecular dating

Molecular dating uses mutations in DNA to date phylogenies or the tree of life, for example when human and chimpanzee split into two distinct species, or when dinosaurs went extinct, etc. Existing molecular dating only uses fossil or historical records to calibrate time. We have recently developed a new generation of molecular dating that use species traits to calibrate mutation rate. This is based on a wide range of observations that species traits are associated with mutation rate, for example large and long-lived animals living in cold environments have lower mutation rate. This project will compare the performance between our new method and the traditional molecular dating method. Students are expected to have a background reading on molecular dating, a good understanding of our new method, and a training in simulating DNA sequence data and using the biggest phylogenetic software platform BEAST2.