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Numerous problems

Posted by mherron on 15 Jan 2018 at 14:28 GMT

There are numerous problems with this article, including the methods, the results, and the interpretation of the results. I am the author of the blog post referenced in the previous comment, and I have written an update in response to the authors’ replies (https://freethoughtblogs....). In brief, the most serious problems are:
1. Choice of outgroup: Chlamydomonas is part of the plant lineage (in the broad sense), definitely closer to plants than are animals and fungi. Every paper cited in support of this choice actually contradicts it.
2. Fossil calibrations: fossil calibrations are listed (with references), but it is unclear what divergence each calibration refers to.
3. Contradictory divergence time estimates: in some cases, estimates for the same divergence vary by as much as five-fold; for example, estimates for the divergence between plants and animals range from 110 MYA to 549 MYA.
4. Divergence time estimates at odds with the fossil record: for example, 110 MYA for the divergence between a plant (sorghum) and an animal (Hydra), 124 MYA for that between an echinoderm (Strongylocentrotus) and a chordate (Danio).
5. Divergence time estimates that contradict the inferred tree: for example, the inferred divergence time between O. sativa and M. acuminata is 22 MYA; between O. sativa and B. distachyon 62 MYA. But according to Fig. 7, M. acuminata diverged from O. sativa before B. distachyon did.
6. Numerous misinterpretations of the tree: for example, mice are closer to cow than to primates (the tree shows mice sister to all other mammals); humans are closest to chimpanzee (the tree shows Gorilla sister to chimpanzee).
The article has been online for nearly four months now with no correction or expression of editorial concern.

No competing interests declared.