A recent comment from a reviewer of my primate phylogeny manuscript again said the same thing as Scott Page has said over at Nature Precedings where my manuscript is posted that “the concept of the moleculr clock has little bearing on molecular phylogenetic studies that do not enforce a molecular clock criterion in their analyses.” Thus, there is a strong consensus in the field that even if the molecular clock is implausible which nearly everyone admits, one can still use other methods to infer molecular phylogeny within the overall paradigm originally started by the molecular clock concept. It is a self-deceiving illusion in my opinion, and I have just inserted the following into my revised manuscript (under review) to dispel it in the clearest way possible.
All traditional molecular phylogeny methods are based on the neutral theory. Early methods made explicit use of the molecular clock idea. But since the molecular clock has been widely known as implausible today, other methods have also been developed that are supposed to not to depend on the molecular clock. However, these methods are still based on the neutral theory and the neutral theory is in turn based on the molecular clock, as admitted by Kimura and Ohta: “Probably the strongest evidence for the theory is the remarkable uniformity for each protein molecule in the rate of mutant substitutions in the course of evolution.” (1). Therefore, we can conclude that all traditional molecular phylogeny methods are either explicitly or implicitly based on the molecular clock. The non-existence of the molecular clock in macroevolution as demonstrated by the overlap feature of the genetic equidistance result is sufficient to deem all traditional molecular phylogeny methods invalid for macroevolution.
1. Kimura M, Ohta T (1971) Protein polymorphism as a phase of molecular evolution. Nature 229: 467-479.