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Because mutations accumulate so slowly, this clock works better for very ancient events, like evolutionary splits between species.The recombination clock, on the other hand, ticks at a rate appropriate for dates within the last 100,000 years.Based on the size of these chunks and frequency of crossovers, geneticists can estimate how long ago that individual was your ancestor.Gene flow between divergent populations leads to chromosomes with mosaic ancestry.However, there are millions of differences between humans and chimpanzees; our last common ancestor lived over six million years ago.Recombination, also known as crossing-over, is the other main way DNA accumulates changes over time.

These changes will be inherited by future generations if they occur in eggs, sperm or their cellular precursors (the germline).

DNA holds the story of our ancestry – how we’re related to the familiar faces at family reunions as well as more ancient affairs: how we’re related to our closest nonhuman relatives, chimpanzees; how mated with Neanderthals; and how people migrated out of Africa, adapting to new environments and lifestyles along the way.

And our DNA also holds clues about the timing of these key events in human evolution.

In humans, about 36 recombination events occur per generation, one or two per chromosome.

As this happens every generation, segments inherited from a particular individual get broken into smaller and smaller chunks.

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