Human mutation rate slower than thought

June 28, 2011

Combined with the results of three similar recent studies, the rate indicates that, on average, about one DNA chemical letter in every 85 million gets mutated per generation through copying mistakes made during sperm and egg production. The new rate means each child inherits somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 to 50 new mutations.

Previous measurements based on genetic comparisons between humans and chimpanzees had estimated the rate to be more than twice as fast. The discrepancy could mean that chimps and humans shared a common ancestor longer ago than many had thought.

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