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Human Race: Single Female Ancestor?


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"In 1987, Cann, Stoneking, and Wilson published the results of their study as "Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution." By combining mtDNA sequence data from different human geographic populations and applying the molecular clock hypothesis, Cann, Stoneking, and Wilson traced the modern human gene pool to Africa and a common female ancestor who lived approximately 200,000 years ago. Mass media called this ancestor Mitochondrial Eve or African Eve."

 

https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/allan-charles-wilson-1934-1991

 

Please forgive my ignorance here, but, is the above saying the entire human race comes from one woman? 😲 I've heard we are descended from a "common ancestor" but I didn't think it literally meant all from a single female ancestor. I don't know, I just thought there would be females all over the earth that evolved from ancestors, all over the earth. That quote seems to suggest there was an actual single female at ground zero, somewhere on the earth. Is it saying, literally one female, or were there thousands of females and the human race stems from one of those thousands of females?  

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Well...males have both x and y chromosomes, right?

 

Besides what dimwit informed you that females were even part of the human race? :lmao:

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10k ~ 80k years ago?

How do they even determine same "species" - given the fact that evolutionary change are on-going?

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As I understand the "common ancestor" concept, it doesn't imply that everyone had only one female ancestor, but that everyone had one particular ancestor among their ancestors, in the same way that many people descend from Genghis Khan, despite humans having existed long before he was born.

 

There also seem to be a few genes that are inherited pretty much directly from one's mother or father with few alterations, which means that it's really easy to trace those genes back to whatever ancestor they came from, but it's very hard to detect any contribution from other ancestors by looking at those genes.

 

In other words, my understanding is that we can tell that there was a common ancestor because some genes are shared across a large number of people, but that's not because that was the only person alive at the time, but rather because those genes are very easy to trace.

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Not a biologist, but I suppose that the more popular an female with particular adaptations was (blue eyes, better logic, or something), and if her offspring also were popular, then those genes would be carried onward. Any particular female in our distant lineage would still be limited to maybe a dozen surviving children over her life. And as those mingle and breed with other tribes, the females carry on the mitochondrial link, and so it spreads across people groups over time. 

 

The single female was just one of many at the time, but for whatever reason her offspring mated and were successful in surviving as they spread across the lands with different tribes. 

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21 hours ago, SeaJay said:

"In 1987, Cann, Stoneking, and Wilson published the results of their study as "Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution." By combining mtDNA sequence data from different human geographic populations and applying the molecular clock hypothesis, Cann, Stoneking, and Wilson traced the modern human gene pool to Africa and a common female ancestor who lived approximately 200,000 years ago. Mass media called this ancestor Mitochondrial Eve or African Eve."

 

https://embryo.asu.edu/pages/allan-charles-wilson-1934-1991

 

Please forgive my ignorance here, but, is the above saying the entire human race comes from one woman? 😲 I've heard we are descended from a "common ancestor" but I didn't think it literally meant all from a single female ancestor. I don't know, I just thought there would be females all over the earth that evolved from ancestors, all over the earth. That quote seems to suggest there was an actual single female at ground zero, somewhere on the earth. Is it saying, literally one female, or were there thousands of females and the human race stems from one of those thousands of females?  

(underline added to your quote)

 

What they are talking about here is they believe one female was the mother of a DNA change that defines our species homo sapiens from the human species that came before us and is now extinct. This change supposedly happened about 200,00 years ago and was not necessarily passed down to all of this female"s offspring, but probably to most or all of her female offspring. What they determined concerning this DNA difference was not explained. It may have nothing to do with the appearance of the individual. But this DNA change caused her descendants in time to look more like modern humans of today and probably eventually led to smarter offspring of both sexes.

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Yes, that's what I got from the few articles I read. As I understand it, whilst the human race can be traced back to one female ("Mitochondrial Eve") in Africa, some 200,000 years ago, she wasn't the only female around at that time, and there were many females before her. She is simply the most recent female to have all our genetic make up (for want of a better term).

 

Thanks all for the feedback.

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There's a great documentary available if anyone is interested...

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There is some conflating of mitochondrial DNA with germ cell DNA in this thread.  I suggest folks take the time to learn the difference.

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https://undsci.berkeley.edu/search/imagedetail.php?id=175&topic_id=&keywords=

 

https://www.genome.gov/genetics-glossary/Mitochondrial-DNA

 

https://www.quora.com/What-are-the-differences-between-mitochondrial-and-nuclear-DNA

 

"Therefore it is much easier to locate recent changes in populations, for example the migrations out of Africa in the last 200,000 years, or the ethnic backgrounds of different African races, using mitochondrial DNA. In contrast nuclear DNA has fewer fine mutations that can be used as a map for recent events (in the last million years, say)."

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