Age Confirmed for ’Eve,’ Mother of All Humans
Source: livescience.comA maternal ancestor to all living humans called mitochondrial Eve likely lived about 200,000 years ago, at roughly the same time anatomically modern humans are believed to have emerged, a new review study confirms.
The results are based on analyses of mitochondrial DNA. Found in the energy-producing centers of cells, mitochondrial DNA is only passed down the maternal line, and can be traced back to one woman.
However, this doesn’t mean she was the first modern woman, rather it indicates that only her descendants survive to the present day.
"There is always some other female that predated mitochondrial Eve, whose DNA didn’t make it up to modernity," said Marek Kimmel, a professor of statistics at Rice University. "So the age of the mitochondrial Eve is always less than the age of the true, first female modern human."
A molecular clock
While most of an organism’s DNA is contained in the nuclei of its cells, mitochondria also contain genetic material, but much less of it, making it easier to analyze. Mitochondrial DNA contains a region that changes rapidly and can provide a sort of molecular clock calibrated to times comparable to the age of modern humanity, making it a favorite for population geneticists, Kimmel said.
As part of the three-year project, Kimmel and Krzysztof Cyran, a Polish researcher, compared the estimates produced by about 10 genetic models intended to determine when mitochondrial Eve lived. They started with data on mitochondrial DNA previously collected from random blood donors.
Scientists know the average rate of mutation, so they can look at the genetic variation among pairs of individuals to see when their lineages diverged. But the equation becomes more complicated.
"Mutation is producing divergence, but some of the divergence is lost because of random events that occur, for example some populations become extinct," Kimmel said. As ancient modern humans dispersed, some groups settled and grew, while others became extinct.
The models make different assumptions about growth and extinction rates, which had the potential to change the estimate of mitochondrial Eve’s age, the researchers found. One type of model makes the less realistic, but more manageable assumption that the human population has increased at a smooth, nearly exponential rate. Another more realistic, but more technically challenging type of model assumes the human population has grown in discrete random episodes.
But, regardless, all of the models produced estimates placing this ancient mother’s age at around 200,000 years.
"We actually show if one uses different models, one comes up with a very similar estimate, so this makes the estimate more robust," Kimmel said.
The estimates produced by models that assume population growth occurred in discrete, random bursts fell within 10 percent of each other. When taking into consideration models that assumed smooth growth, that range expanded by up to 20 percent. These models also tended to estimate that mitochondrial Eve lived earlier, according to Kimmel.
The research was published in June in the journal Theoretical Population Biology.
Article from: livescience.com
The Seven Daughters of Eve
"Seven Daughters of Eve. The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry"
by Brian Sykes
In 1994 Professor Bryan Sykes, a leading world authority on DNA and human evolution, was called into examine the frozen remains of a man trapped in glacial ice in northern Italy. What made Sykes’s story particularly revelatory was his successful identification of a genetic descendent of the Ice Man, a woman living in Great Britain today.
In The Seven Daughters of Eve, he gives us a firsthand account of his research into a remarkable gene, which passes undiluted from generation to generation through the maternal line. After plotting thousands of DNA sequences from all over the world, Sykes found that they clustered around a handful of distinct groups. Among Europeans and North American Caucasians, there are, in fact, in seven.
This conclusion was staggering: almost all people of native European descent, wherever they may live throughout the world, can trace their ancestry back to one of seven women, hence, the Seven Daughters of Eve. Naming them Ursula, XENIX, Helena, Vela, Tara, Quatrain, and Jasmine, Sykes has created portraits of their disparate worlds by mapping the migratory patterns followed by millions of their ancestors.
This discovery led Sykes to a larger conclusion: that almost every one of the 650 million modern Europeans has an unbroken genetic link to one of only seven women in the ancient past Sykes assigns names to these seven daughters of Eve and presents likely details of their lives and travels.
Over the past decade research in Oxford and other universities throughoutthe world, has shown that our mitochondrial DNA (or mtDNA for short),which is inherited exclusively through the maternal line, uncovers agenetic legacy which has been invisible until now.
This female genealogy has created an evolutionary framework going back150,000 years, and reveals that almost everyone in Europe, or whosematernal roots are in Europe, is descended from one of only seven women.Each of them founded a maternal clan whose descendants make up well over95% of modern Europeans.
These seven women, the ’Seven Daughters of Eve’, have been given thenames Ursula (Latin for "she-bear"), Xenia (Greek for "hospitable"),Helena (Greek for "light"), Velda (Scandinavian for "ruler"), Tara(Gaelic for "rock"), Katrine (Greek for "pure") and Jasmine (Persian for"flower").
You can now find your own place within this genealogy - by far theworld’s largest known family tree. If your roots are in Europe, you willdiscover which of these women is your ancestor and find out about herworld.
In other parts of the world, twenty seven equivalent clans have beenidentified so far. If your maternal roots lie outside Europe, you canfind which one of these you belong to and how you are connected to allthe other clans.
Helena’s descendants are the most numerous in Europe, having started20,000 years ago from a hunting family in the Dordogne region ofsouthwest France. After the Ice Age her clan moved north, reachingBritain about 12,000 year ago.
Katrine lived 15,000 years ago near Venice. Her clan ventured north, butmany are still to be found in the Alps. The 5000 year old IceMan was oneof her descendants
Velda lived among the hills of northern Spain 17,000 years ago where theyshared the land with Ursula’s clan. They spread out after the Ice Age,some of her clan becoming the Saami or Lapps of northern Scandinavia.
Tara lived in Tuscany in Northern Italy about 17,000 years ago, when thehills were thick with forests. After the Ice Age, her clan moved intoFrance and trekked across the dry land that was to become the EnglishChannel into Ireland.
Ursula lived about 45,000 years ago in Northern Greece. She was slenderand graceful and hunted with stone tools. Her clan spread across Europeincluding Britain and France.
Xenia lived 25,000 years ago on the plains beneath the Caucasus Mountainson the eastern edge of the Black Sea. As the Ice Age ended her clanspread to Europe and across Asia to America.
Jasmine was born in Syria about 10,000 years ago and her descendantsarrived in Europe too late to experience the hardships of the Ice Age.Her clan brought agriculture into Europe.
Discover which Daughter is your Ancestor
The Seven European Daughters of Eve matriarchal groups correspond to Dr.Wallace’s lineages above, and were given names by Prof. Sykes:
Helena: (Greek for "light") This is our family line of descent and holdsfor any male or female family member who descends maternally from afemale Blaies / Blaes. This clan’s descendants are the most numerous inEurope, having started 20,000 years ago from a hunting family in theDordogne region of the ice-capped Pyrenees in southern France. As theclimate warmed, Helena’s descendants trekked northward to what is nowEngland, some 12,000 years ago. Members of this group are now present inall European countries.
Jasmine: (Persian for "flower") Her people had a relatively happy life inSyria 10,000 years ago, where they farmed wheat and raised domesticanimals. Jasmine’s descendants arrived in Europe too late to experiencethe hardships of the Ice Age. Her clan brought agriculture into Europe.
Katrine: (Greek for "pure") lived 15,000 years ago near Venice. Her clanventured north, but many are still to be found in the Alps. The 5000 yearold IceMan was one of her descendants. Today most of Katrine’s clan livein the Alps.
Tara: (Gaelic for "rock") settled in Tuscany in Northern Italy about17,000 years ago when the hills were thick with forests. After the IceAge, her clan moved into France and trekked across the dry land that wasto become the English Channel into Ireland.
Ursula: (Latin for "she-bear") lived about 45,000 years ago in NorthernGreece. She was slender and graceful and hunted with stone tools. Herclan spread across Europe including Britain and France.
Valda: (Scandinavian for "ruler") Originally from the hills of northernSpain, Valda and her immediate descendants lived 17,000 years ago andshared the land with Ursula’s clan. They spread out after the Ice Age,some of her clan becoming the Saami or Lapps of northern Finland andNorway.
Xenia: (Greek for "hospitable") lived 25,000 years ago on the plainsbeneath the Caucasus Mountains on the eastern edge of the Black Sea. Asthe Ice Age ended her clan spread to Europe and across Asia to America.[As Dr. Wallace discovered, the X pattern is a rare European lineage andis also among the northern Native Americans such as the Ojibwa andSioux.]
Article from: douglashistory.co.uk
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