Feeds

Geneticists resolve human dilemma of Adam's boy-toy status

Largest Y chromosome study: Ancient Adam canoodlingly conterminous with elder Eve

Remote control for virtualized desktops

The largest-ever study of the male Y chromosome has shown that the so-called "Adam" – the most common genetic ancestor to modern humans – is much older than previously thought, which solves a troubling dilemma for geneticists.

Geneticists have spent a lot of time examining the genes of humans in the hope for finding what's popularly known as Y-chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve; the oldest individuals with whom a direct genetic link is shared by modern humanity.

The oldest Eve is thought to have trod Africa's dusty savannah an estimated 99 to 148 thousand years ago, but Adam was only 50 to 115 thousand years old, it was thought – and that's quite an age gap. Now a full analysis of the Y chromosome data in male populations around the world shows the oldest swinger in town was most likely spreading his seed between 120 to 156 thousand years ago.

"Dogma has held that the common ancestor of human patrilineal lineages, popularly referred to as the Y-chromosome 'Adam', lived considerably more recently than the common ancestor of female lineages, the so-called mitochondrial 'Eve'," the paper states. "However, we conclude that the mitochondrial coalescence time is not substantially greater than that of the Y chromosome."

The research sequenced the complete Y chromosomes of 69 males from seven populations of the Human Genome Diversity Panel from around the world, and two that have remained exclusively African – San (Bushmen) from Namibia and Mbuti Pygmies from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The research also found a surprising amount of genetic diversity in the Y chromosome, including 11,640 single-nucleotide variants on the male theme, much higher than previously identified. It's a measure of how far genetic science is advancing that teams can now affordably sequence in this level of depth.

Y chromosomes change relatively little over the millennia, and the team was able to used an archeologically established point – humanity reaching the Americas around 15,000 years ago – by comparing the genetic data from the two populations. This was used to establish a "molecular clock" of genetic change in the Y chromosome.

So, did our genetic Adam and Eve ever lock eyes across a crowded cave, exchange a few pleasantries, and then have a fumble under the furs to spawn modern humanity? Almost certainly not, but they did have a lot of offspring that we can backtrace using genetic sequencing, so it's likely they were somewhat frisky.

As techniques evolve, we're likely to see changes in the age of the hypothetical Adam and Eve. Some recent research suggests we may be able to trace things back as far as 580,000 years ago, and researchers expect there'll be similar date shifts backwards for Eve as techniques improve.

There is another explanation however, and one that over a third of US citizens appear to believe.

This position states that the Earth and everything in it, indeed the entire universe, is under 10,000 years old, and that geologists, biologists, physicists, chemists, archeologists, and geneticists just haven't understood that God has a pretty twisted sense of humor when it comes to selecting who gets through the Pearly Gates. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
Bond villains lament as Wicked Lasers withdraw death ray
Want to arm that shark? Better get in there quick
prev story

Whitepapers

Go beyond APM with real-time IT operations analytics
How IT operations teams can harness the wealth of wire data already flowing through their environment for real-time operational intelligence.
The total economic impact of Druva inSync
Examining the ROI enterprises may realize by implementing inSync, as they look to improve backup and recovery of endpoint data in a cost-effective manner.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Mitigating web security risk with SSL certificates
Web-based systems are essential tools for running business processes and delivering services to customers.