[Drosophila] Survey: Date for MRCA of D. melanogaster and D. simulans

DJO via dros%40net.bio.net (by darren.obbard from ed.ac.uk)
Fri Oct 14 02:56:30 EST 2011

Hi! [apologies for cross-posting]

_*Without*_ looking at the literature, please attempt to answer the following questions:

[1] When was the most recent common ancestor of Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila simulans?

[2] When was the most recent common ancestor of the subgenera Sophophora and Drosophila (from example, the MRCA of D.melanogaster and either D. virilis or D. mojavensis. This is the date at the root of the 12-genomes phylogeny).

Please send any answers by email to me darren.obbard(at)ed.ac.uk

My aim is to survey the community's opinion (including any errors or misapprehensions), not to directly survey the literature. So PLEASE answer questions [1] and [2] without looking them up first. If you wish, you can also name any paper that you might have in mind when you give your answer - but again PLEASE DO NOT look at that paper to check your answer. All answers will be treated anonymously, and the results published here in due course.

If you distrust point estimates (as you should) please give confidence intervals. These could be a point estimate plus-or-minus a standard error, or a point estimate with 95% confidence intervals, or a flat stepped distribution of your choice (for example, "anywhere between X and Y million years ago"). I am also happy to take a multi-spiked distribution ("either X or Y million years ago"), including one with a zero-bound ("less than Z million years ago") or any specific distribution of your choice (e.g. paste in the R-code).

If you have absolutely no informed opinion, but you have persisted in reading this far anyway, you are clearly the sort of person whose wild guess I would like to hear about. Please just take a guess (with any error distribution you feel is appropriate) and just let me know that it is an uninformed guess. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this email, and I look forward to hearing any and all (un)informed guesses.

Best wishes,


Darren Obbard
Institute of Evolutionary Biology
University of Edinburgh, UK

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