New Evidence: When Did Humanity's Last Common Male And Female Ancestors Live?

Thursday, August 1, 2013 - 13:31 in Paleontology & Archaeology

Sardinian Fishermen Two men go fishing the traditional way off the coast of the Italian island of Sardinia. One new study of human ancestry used the genetic diversity of Sardinian men to determine the dates of the last common male ancestor of modern humans. Photo by Gianluca Dedola Sadly, Adam and Eve probably didn't date each other. Hundreds of thousands of years ago-when people still lived in small hunter-gatherer bands, when it's not even clear they were totally anatomically modern (though they probably were)-something happened in the human genome. Somewhere in Africa, a man carried a Y chromosome that would turn out to be the only surviving Y chromosome in humans today. This man lived around plenty of other people, perhaps with their own Y chromosomes, but chance whittled away his peers' contributions until only his was left. In a totally independent event, a woman carried mitochondria-tiny structures contained inside cells-that would become the...

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