Age Estimates for the Angiosperms
Initial attempts to estimate the age of the angiosperms and the timing of important divergences based on molecular data span a wide time range (ranging from ~125 to > 400 mya) and many disagree with dates determined from the fossil record (see Sanderson and Doyle, 2001; P. Soltis et al. 2002; Sanderson et al., 2004; Bell et al., 2005). However, more recent efforts to date the origin of the angiosperms using molecular data and improved dating methods have converged on estimates between 180-140 mya, predating the dates inferred from the fossil record by between 45 to 5 million years (Sanderson et al., 2004; Bell et al., 2005). Estimated ages for specific angiosperm clades using molecular estimates are also generally older than inferences from the fossil record (e.g., Wikström et al., 2001, compared with Magallon et al., 1999), but these discrepancies are generally small. Work in the future will likely focus on further reconciliation of age estimates inferred from fossils and molecular data. For example, given the numerous diverse fossils reported from as early as 115-125 mya, perhaps the earliest angiosperms were older than the estimate from the fossil record of 132 mya. Conversely, molecular methods tend to overestimate ages (Rodríguez-Trelles et al., 2002), so refinement of dating approaches is needed to compensate for this bias.
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