What species in central Europe in the phylogenetic tree shows the closest difference in time to the most recent common ancestor with Homo sapiens?

  • $\begingroup$ Could you define central Europe? $\endgroup$
    – rg255
    Jun 11 '16 at 21:19
  • $\begingroup$ What do you mean by "next relative"? $\endgroup$
    – bli
    Jun 12 '16 at 6:49

I am not sure I understood the question. Is the following your question?

Among all species living in central Europe, which one is the most closely related to homo sapiens?

Source of information

opentreeoflife.org (nice vizualisation on OneZoom.org) is one of the most update synthesis of existing research inn phylogenetic reconstruction. I base my answer in consideration of the tree on OneZoom.org.


Outside Homo sapiens, there is no living primates (or any other Euarchonta) in Central Europe. The sister branch of primates include Lagomorpha (Hares and Rabbits) and Rodents (mice, rats, squirrels, prairie dogs, porcupines, beavers, guinea pigs, hamsters, and capybaras). In other words, any Lagomorpha and any Rodents are all equally related to any Primate (incl. Homo sapiens). Their Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) lived about 75 millions years ago.

Examples of species of lagormorpha and rodents that live in Europe include Mus musculus, Rattus norvegicus, Lepus europeanus and Sciurus vulgaris.

How about Hedgehogs?

Hedghogs are Insectivora and they are a sister group to all primates, lagomorpha and rodents. Their MRCA lived about 80 million years ago. So, no there are species currently living in Europe that are more closely related to us than hedgehogs.


The term "next relative" does not mean anything! You might want to understand your understanding of phylogeny with an introductory course.

  • $\begingroup$ Yes this was my question. Would it "theoretically" be possible to measure the individual distances of each Lagomorph or Rodent species to the MRCA? I mean it is for instance known that some are more "archaic" then others. So that the question would be what is the most archaic of all Lagomorpha and Rodents? I see that the answer ideally would theoretically require a complete knowledge of the MRCA, nut maybe some guess is possible? $\endgroup$ Jun 12 '16 at 13:20
  • $\begingroup$ For example Aplodontia rufa (if it only lived in Centraleurope) would be a candidate in the sense of my question. $\endgroup$ Jun 12 '16 at 15:31
  • $\begingroup$ Aplodontia rufa lives in north America (California, Oregon, Washington and British Columbia). I added examples of species in my answer. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Jun 12 '16 at 23:11
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Nice answer. I would just note that OneZoom.org doesn't assemble the data themselves; they get it from opentreeoflife.org (as acknowledged in onezoom.org/about.html). They do a nice job of presenting it though, which is also important! $\endgroup$
    – arboviral
    Jun 13 '16 at 11:01
  • $\begingroup$ I have updated the question and choose one possible specification of the heuristic term "next relative". $\endgroup$ Jun 13 '16 at 13:48

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