The evolution of human race has been a subject of incessant research around the world. According to the findings of modern research, the human history can be traced back to a single woman, who has been found out to be the maternal ancestor to all living humans today. Named Mitochondrial Eve, she is known as the mother of all humans. Also called mtEve, the Mitochondrial Eve is named after mitochondria, the powerhouse of a cell, and the biblical Eve. She is believed to have lived about 200,000 years ago, most possibly in Eastern Africa.
MtEve was by no means the only living human female of her time. The fact is that her female contemporaries failed to produce a direct unbroken female line to any living person in the present day. Only her descendents survive today. The descendents of others probably have gone extinct.
The results are based on analyses of mitochondrial DNA. At the time of fertilization, the DNAs from mother and father join in a process known as recombination. Some particular DNAs are passed down from either mother or father to the offspring. Found in the energy-producing centers of cells, mitochondrial DNA is only passed down the maternal line. Over a long period of time, the mtDNA would undergo certain mutations. The scientists can compare the DNAs of various people and determine their similarities and find out approximate time period during which a particular mutation lived. It is through these experiments the modern scientists reached the confirmation of the Mitochondrial Eve.
The first scientist to venture into the research of mtEve was Allan Wilson of the University of California, along with a few of his students. And it was in 1987, as a result of the work by various scientists, it was confirmed that all the current humans were descended from a single woman. The new theory posed a significant threat to the then prevailing multiregional hypothesis, which was proposed in 1984.
The name Mitochondrial Eve first appeared in a 1987 article in the magazine Science by Roger Lewin, titled ‘The Unmasking of Mitochondrial Eve.’ many scientists call the ancestor with a different name, the ‘Lucky Mother’.
Similar to the mtEve, there is also a specific male from whom all the humans are descended. Called Y-chromosomal Adam, he is believed to have lived around 100000 years ago. In the case of males, the inherited DNA in the male case is the nuclear Y chromosome rather than the mtDNA.
You might also like: