Interesting article. I wasn't able to find the original press release,
but the Times article seems to demonstrate a poor understanding of the
(admittedly difficult to grasp) subject on the reporter's part.
First there's the following colorful statement:
> The result overturns the Biblical description of women being created from a
> spare rib left over from a man, and suggests that if Eve ever did meet Adam
> she was slumming it, genetically speaking.
Then this statement:
> But ancestral Adam, measured by the Y chromosome clock, was alive a mere
> 59,000 years ago. So it is clear than ancestral Eve never met ancestral
> Adam, though she must have met some sort of male in order to have begotten
> all those descendants. Dr Underhill and his team report in Nature Genetics
The usage of "Adam" is being mixed here. To clarify, I'll apply the name
"Adam" to the first usage, and "Noah" to the second usage. Thus, Adam and
Eve lived and mated 143,000 years ago. However many neighbors, mates, and
children they had, one of the only male lineages still surviving 59,000
yrs ago was carried by Noah, as a descendent of Adam (and Eve). Any other
male lineages still existing at that time becoming (geographically?)
isolated and eventually extinct before the present day; or they died out
by producing only daughters (who mated with Noah and his male
With the exception of the fanciful names, this scenario should be the
correct scientific inference from these data (somebody please correct me
if this is wrong). The reason for my name choices should be obvious:
the Genesis story is also an example of an initial couple with numerous
offspring whose family tree experienced a bottleneck later in time, with
only one male lineage afterwards surviving (Noah and his family on the
Ark). (This parallel with the Genesis story does not necessitate a direct
correspondence, of course.)
Note that the reporter's statement about overturning the Biblical
description is something of a non sequitur, and seems to arise from the
multiple senses of "Adam".
Also, the following statement is really baffling: "perfect" DNA or
chromosomes?! The reporter seems to have some kind of teleological view
> that the perfect DNA for men simply took longer to emerge. There must have
> been thousands of generations of men whose maleness was provided by
> different, less perfect, versions of the Y chromosome.
I also vaguely recall hearing about further studies in the last six months
or so that had called those mRNA "Eve" results into some question.
Anybody up to speed on that?
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