Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam

In the past decade, scientists have repeatedly referred to ‘Mitochondrial Eve‘, the (hypothesized) source of mtDNA for all humans alive today.  She is believed to have lived approximately 140,000 years ago in Africa.  There is also ‘Y-chromosomal Adam‘, the (hypothesized) source of every living man’s Y-DNA.  He is also believed to have lived in Africa, but more recently, between 60,000 and 90,000 years ago.  Thus, Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromsomal Adam were not a couple – they were not the source of all human genetic material on the planet today.  Instead, the terms refer to the founders of all the mtDNA and Y-DNA respectively.

For a wonderful description of some of the genetic behind Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromsomal Adam, go to “The Questionable Authority“, a blog which is part of Scienceblogs.  While you’re there, be sure to read the comments, where the discussion addresses the time disparity between the two DNA sources (140,000 years ago versus 60-90,000 years ago).

11 Responses

  1. Peter 13 December 2010 / 9:46 am

    The difference is due to fact that the reproduction period of woman is shorter (faster genetic drift and more matrilineal generations) than for man. It can be more than 50%. (The age mother is often about 15 years and fathers above 25 years in (recent) Africa.)

  2. Eve 7 May 2011 / 1:28 pm

    Mitochondrial Eve was the most RECENT common ancestor, that means there could be the biblical Eve living with Adam a long time before the mitochondrial one. And also the time when she lived is not so sure. See and others.

  3. nick humphrey 10 May 2011 / 5:06 am

    @Eve according to the jews, the people who wrote the old testament, cain was the oldest son of adam and eve, which puts bible chronology starting around 5800 years ago (according to the jewish calendar).

  4. adamu 13 May 2012 / 3:53 pm

    The bible refers to the creation of Adam & Eve as the first Modern humans, appearing about 140,000 thousand years ago in East Africa.
    It was the later matings with Human women by the ‘Watchers” or ‘Fallen Angels’ about 60,000 years ago which created the corruption of the original male DNA. At least 2 strains of male DNA exist today – the descendants of Seth and the descendants of Cain.
    approx. 12,000 years ago our DNA went through a further upgrade, this time by the ‘Grey’ team creating the first White human beings, highly intelligent and with a little less compassion for others they would soon take over the world.

  5. Tommy 14 June 2012 / 9:54 pm

    The original post is incorrect. Mitochondrial Eve is actually estimated to be only ~6,500 years old, which coincides with Biblical teachings.

    The original value was an inference and based on evolution bias.

  6. Noah 12 January 2013 / 1:30 pm

    There seems to be a lot of confusion in the comments.

    #5 (Peter): there is no recombination in mt DNA, it is transmitted from mother to child unchanged and simply undergoes periodical mutation at a relative constant rate (admittedly depending on the environment, but as is any DNA). So that doesn’t explain the difference at all. This difference needn’t explaining though, there is no reason why mt Eve and Y Adam should be contemporary.

    #6 (Eve) and #9 (Tommy): this article is old and the theory of a faster clock rate has been dismissed long ago.

    And for all people still concerned with biblical references: religion has nothing to do with biology. The former tries to give a meaning to life, and doesn’t explain the science of it which is the field of the latter. You’d think that since Galileo and others, that would have finally sunked in!

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