Putting 'Adam' in his rightful place in evolutionary history

Jan 22, 2014

Our most common male ancestor walked the earth 209,000 years ago – earlier than scientists commonly thought - according to new research from the University of Sheffield.

The pioneering study, conducted by Dr Eran Elhaik from the University of Sheffield and Dr Dan Graur from the University of Houston, also debunked the discovery of the Y chromosome that supposedly predated humanity.

In the new research, published in the European Journal of Human Genetics, Dr Elhaik and Dr Graur used conventional biological models to date our most common male ancestor 'Adam' in his rightful place in evolutionary history. The ground breaking results showed that this is 9,000 years earlier than scientists originally believed.

Their findings put 'Adam' within the time frame of his other half 'Eve', the genetic maternal ancestor of mankind. This contradicts a recent study which had claimed the human Y chromosome originated in a different species through interbreeding which dates 'Adam' to be twice as old.

Debunking unscientific theories is not new to Dr Elhaik. Earlier this year he debunked Hammer's previous work on the unity of the Jewish genome and together with Dr Graur they refuted the proclamations made by the ENCODE project on junk DNA.

"We can say with some certainty that modern humans emerged in Africa a little over 200,000 years ago," said Dr Elhaik.

"It is obvious that did not interbreed with hominins living over 500,000 years ago. It is also clear that there was no single 'Adam' and 'Eve' but rather groups of 'Adams and 'Eves' living side by side and wandering together in our world."

Dr Elhaik added: "We have shown that the University of Arizona study lacks any scientific merit.

"In fact, their hypothesis creates a sort of 'space-time paradox 'whereby the most ancient individual belonging to Homo sapiens species has not yet been born. If we take the numerical results from previous studies seriously we can conclude that the past may be altered by the mother of 'Adam' deciding not to conceive him in the future, thus, bringing a retroactive end to our species.

"Think of the movie Back to the Future, when Marty was worried that his parents would not meet and as a result he wouldn't be born - it's the same idea.

"The question to what extend did our humans forbearers interbreed with their closest relatives is one of the hottest questions in anthropology that remains open."

Explore further: The when and where of the Y: Research on Y chromosomes finds new clues about human ancestry

More information: To view the full research paper visit www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/vaop/ncurrent/pdf/ejhg2013303a.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Biology of early human relative uncovered

Jan 22, 2014

The partial skeleton of an ancient hominin has been uncovered for the first time in Tanzania, giving a new insight into the species' biology, say scientists.

Recommended for you

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

12 hours ago

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Crowd-sourcing Britain's Bronze Age

Apr 17, 2014

A new joint project by the British Museum and the UCL Institute of Archaeology is seeking online contributions from members of the public to enhance a major British Bronze Age archive and artefact collection.

Roman dig 'transforms understanding' of ancient port

Apr 17, 2014

(Phys.org) —Researchers from the universities of Cambridge and Southampton have discovered a new section of the boundary wall of the ancient Roman port of Ostia, proving the city was much larger than previously ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

UAE reports 12 new cases of MERS

Health authorities in the United Arab Emirates have announced 12 new cases of infection by the MERS coronavirus, but insisted the patients would be cured within two weeks.