The history of molecular evolution starts in the early 20th century with "comparative biochemistry", but the field of molecular evolution came into its own in the 1960s and 1970s, following the rise of molecular biology. The advent of protein sequencing allowed molecular biologists to create phylogenies based on sequence comparison, and to use the differences between homologous sequences as a molecular clock to estimate the time since the last common ancestor. In the late 1960s, the neutral theory of molecular evolution provided a theoretical basis for the molecular clock, though both the clock and the neutral theory were controversial, since most evolutionary biologists held strongly to panselectionism, with natural selection as the only important cause of evolutionary change. After the 1970s, nucleic acid sequencing allowed molecular evolution to reach beyond proteins to highly conserved ribosomal RNA sequences, the foundation of a reconceptualization of the early history of life.
Famous quotes containing the words history of, history and/or evolution:
“If usually the present age is no very long time, still, at our pleasure, or in the service of some such unity of meaning as the history of civilization, or the study of geology, may suggest, we may conceive the present as extending over many centuries, or over a hundred thousand years.”
—Josiah Royce (18551916)
“Bias, point of view, furyare they ... so dangerous and must they be ironed out of history, the hills flattened and the contours leveled? The professors talk ... about passion and point of view in history as a Calvinist talks about sin in the bedroom.”
—Catherine Drinker Bowen (18971973)
“By contrast with history, evolution is an unconscious process. Another, and perhaps a better way of putting it would be to say that evolution is a natural process, history a human one.... Insofar as we treat man as a part of naturefor instance in a biological survey of evolutionwe are precisely not treating him as a historical being. As a historically developing being, he is set over against nature, both as a knower and as a doer.”
—Owen Barfield (b. 1898)