Advertisement
If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on hello@boards.ie for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact hello@boards.ie

Mitochondrial Eve

Options
  • 02-04-2008 11:50am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 8,989 ✭✭✭


    Hi,
    Just reading "River out of Eden" and a chapter is devoted to Mitochondrial Eve.
    Basically, if you trace your maternal line, your Mother's, Mother's Mother's Mother's......Mother - sooner or later you will reach a singularity where every human alive today shares the same great great great......great grandmother.

    Note it is strictly the maternal line, mother's mother's mother...
    Not Mother's Father Mother.... Mother.

    Now, because this is a singularity, it is popularly known as Mitochondrial Eve.

    However, if homo erectus evolves, slowly and gradually to homo sapien surely it is possible for there to be no singularity i.e. no great great great...great grandmother in the maternal line that we all share.
    Let me simplfy.

    Suppose we have a large number of home erectus say 25,000.

    After 10,000 years suppose the species is now:
    90% home erectus, 10% homo sapien.

    After 20,000 years suppose the species is now:
    80% home erectus, 20% homo sapien.

    After 30,000 years suppose the species is now:
    70% home erectus, 30% homo sapien.

    After 50,000 years suppose the species is now:
    50% home erectus, 50% homo sapien.

    After 70,000 years suppose the species is now:
    30% home erectus, 70% homo sapien.

    After 100,000 years suppose the species is now:
    05% home erectus, 95% homo sapien.

    After 120,000 years suppose the species is now:
    00% home erectus, 100% homo sapien.

    So where's the singularity?

    Dawkins (and the wide Science community) seems adamant this singularity must exist.

    What do you think?


«1

Comments

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,416 Mod ✭✭✭✭robindch


    So where's the singularity?
    Every child has one female mother, but not all women produce kids. Hence, the number of women in each previous 'generation' must be the same size, or smaller than, the number in the preceding generation. Carry this back to its logical conclusion and you'll eventually end up with one woman who's the most recent common female ancestor -- the woman whose descendant DNA is present in all living humans.

    Similar logic indicates the existence of a Mitochondrial Adam, or most recent common male ancestor.

    Two corollaries -- this lucky pair are separated by quite some time, as women and men pursue differing reproductive strategies. Also, as male and female lines die out, the MRCFA and MRCMA change from time to time.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 25,848 ✭✭✭✭Zombrex


    So where's the singularity?

    It isn't really a singularity. Its just that this woman's DNA is found in all women. She wasn't the only woman around at the time or anything.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,989 ✭✭✭Tim Robbins


    Wicknight wrote: »
    It isn't really a singularity. Its just that this woman's DNA is found in all women. She wasn't the only woman around at the time or anything.
    It is a singularity. She wasn't the only woman but she was the only women is the maternal great great ... grandmother of everyone alive today.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,794 ✭✭✭JC 2K3


    After 120,000 years suppose the species is now:
    00% home erectus, 100% homo sapien.
    You're making the assumption that humans can reach the point where they are 0% homo erectus.


    What if the amount of our DNA which is derived from homo erectus tends towards zero as we evolve but never actually reaches it?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,989 ✭✭✭Tim Robbins


    robindch wrote: »
    Every child has one female mother, but not all women produce kids. Hence, the number of women in each previous 'generation' must be the same size, or smaller than, the number in the preceding generation.
    The number of women that produce kids in each previous generation must be the same sice of less.
    Carry this back to its logical conclusion and you'll eventually end up with one woman who's the most recent common female ancestor -- the woman whose descendant DNA is present in all living humans.
    Yes but that woman may not be in the homo sapien species, it could much further back.
    comments?





    Similar logic indicates the existence of a Mitochondrial Adam, or most recent common male ancestor.

    Two corollaries -- this lucky pair are separated by quite some time, as women and men pursue differing reproductive strategies. Also, as male and female lines die out, the MRCFA and MRCMA change from time to time.[/QUOTE]


  • Advertisement
  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,558 Mod ✭✭✭✭Dades


    I confused as to how this reconciles with evolution.

    Surely there was never a "first" woman, just many female descendants at a similar stage in the evolutionary scale. And those many woman came from various other 'female' descendants right the way back to pond life...

    I repeat again - I am confused!


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,989 ✭✭✭Tim Robbins


    JC 2K3 wrote: »
    You're making the assumption that humans can reach the point where they are 0% homo erectus.


    What if the amount of our DNA which is derived from homo erectus tends towards zero as we evolve but never actually reaches it?
    I mean 0% more in terms of ability to reproduce with them.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,989 ✭✭✭Tim Robbins


    Dades wrote: »
    I confused as to how this reconciles with evolution.

    Surely there was never a "first" woman, just many female descendants at a similar stage in the evolutionary scale. And those many woman came from various other 'female' descendants right the way back to pond life...

    I repeat again - I am confused!
    +1


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 25,848 ✭✭✭✭Zombrex


    It is a singularity. She wasn't the only woman but she was the only women is the maternal great great ... grandmother of everyone alive today.

    Well no not exactly. She is just the most recent.

    But don't forget that you have 2 grandmothers, 4 great grandmothers, 8 great great grandmothers, 16 great great grandmothers, 32 great great great grandmothers etc etc

    Going back 140,000 years it is not hard to imagine that some where in the mass of great great great ... great grandmothers is one that is shared by all of female kind.

    And there are plenty of others that are nearly shared by all of female kind, but due to creating lineages that end due to death before reproduction, or simply having only sons, don't quite make it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,164 ✭✭✭cavedave


    Just some biology points.
    1. Very little mitocondria comes from the male so there is really no mitocondrial Adam. A Y-chromosome Adam there is.

    2. Two different species cannot interbreed and have fertile offspring. So a horse and donkeys child cannot have children itself (except in rare cases). This means that man was not half homo erectus half homo sapien.

    Correct me if i am wrong


  • Advertisement
  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,416 Mod ✭✭✭✭robindch


    Yes but that woman may not be in the homo sapien species, it could much further back.
    I'd imagine that she may well be of the same "species" (in that she could reproduce with today's males), but that does depend somewhat on your definition of species. Perhaps she could also exist at one end of a ring-species-like chain of human and human-like creatures, each one of which can mate with others close in time, but not necessarily able to mate with those who are not.

    But so what? The MRCFA and MRCMA are artifacts of how the system works; speciation is an unrelated issue, so to speak.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,416 Mod ✭✭✭✭robindch


    cavedave wrote: »
    1. Very little mitocondria comes from the male so there is really no mitocondrial Adam. A Y-chromosome Adam there is.
    Yes, you're quite right. I should have stuck to the unwieldy MRCMA terminology :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,989 ✭✭✭Tim Robbins


    Wicknight wrote: »
    Well no not exactly. She is just the most recent.

    But don't forget that you have 2 grandmothers, 4 great grandmothers, 8 great great grandmothers, 16 great great grandmothers, 32 great great great grandmothers etc etc

    Going back 140,000 years it is not hard to imagine that some where in the mass of great great great ... great grandmothers is one that is shared by all of female kind.

    And there are plenty of others that are nearly shared by all of female kind, but due to creating lineages that end due to death before reproduction, or simply having only sons, don't quite make it.

    No, in any one generation you only have one great, great, great...grand mother which is in the maternal line.
    i.e. mothe's mother's, mother's, mother's, mother's,...,mother

    I see no mathematical reason we should shard all the same maternal mother, that must be in the homo sapient species, it could be a fish, but I see not reason why she must be a human.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,989 ✭✭✭Tim Robbins


    cavedave wrote: »

    2. Two different species cannot interbreed and have fertile offspring. So a horse and donkeys child cannot have children itself (except in rare cases). This means that man was not half homo erectus half homo sapien.

    Correct me if i am wrong
    Correct that is the definition of a species.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,558 Mod ✭✭✭✭Dades


    I see no mathematical reason we should shard all the same maternal mother, that must be in the homo sapient species, it could be a fish, but I see not reason why she must be a human.
    Exactly what I can't help thinking.

    Until one starts drawing arbitrary lines (on what criteria?) how can any one member of any one species in the chain be singled out as a descendant of all?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,989 ✭✭✭Tim Robbins


    But so what? The MRCFA and MRCMA are artifacts of how the system works; speciation is an unrelated issue, so to speak.
    Dawkins is adamant MRCFA is a human. My opinion is that it is logically possible for MRCFA to be homo erectus.

    It must be that the actual differences between mitochondrial DNA in women today and then the known rate of change of mitochondrial DNA indicate that MRFCA lived at a certain time and must have been a women.

    i.e.

    Let Rate of Change be R,
    Let average difference be D,

    R * D probably indicates when MRCFA is, not sure just guessing.

    So IMO what's missing in Dawkins explaination is that it is logically possible for MRFCA to be homo erectus, egaster or habiilus or even a fish but maths and genetics indicate she is actually a human.

    If he included the actual maths it would make sense, but it's pop science so that means no maths unfortunately.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,416 Mod ✭✭✭✭robindch


    Dades wrote: »
    Surely there was never a "first" woman, just many female descendants at a similar stage in the evolutionary scale.
    At any one point in time, there were many women who produced offspring, but for any given population at a point in time, there is an MRCFA. But this MRCFA had a mum who would have been closer to the "first" woman, but not necessarily the first woman of the species herself (see the comment about ring-species above).


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,558 Mod ✭✭✭✭Dades


    robindch wrote: »
    At any one point in time, there were many women who produced offspring, but for any given population at a point in time, there is an MRCFA. But this MRCFA had a mum who would have been closer to the "first" woman, but not necessarily the first woman of the species herself (see the comment about ring-species above).
    Thanks Robin.

    What is clearer now is that there are terms being bandied about that makes this "woman" sound like something less "sciencey". Misleading, but no doubt a better way to sell a few books.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 25,848 ✭✭✭✭Zombrex


    No, in any one generation you only have one great, great, great...grand mother which is in the maternal line.
    i.e. mothe's mother's, mother's, mother's, mother's,...,mother

    Yes but that is when you are just picking the line. The line is mother mother mother, but in each generation you can pick from all your great ... grand mothers.

    For example
    M-F    M-F  M-F   M-F   M-F   M-F
      |      |   |     |    |     |
      F  -  M   F  - M   M -  F
         |           |         |
         M    -   F          M
                |
                F
    
    The line comes down from the 3rd female, to the second female, to the first female ...

    But that doesn't mean there was only one woman alive in the first generation. There were 6 alive. And in this example they only produce one child. In reality they could produce many.

    Perhaps I'm not following exactly what is troubling you about this?


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 24,416 Mod ✭✭✭✭robindch


    Dawkins is admanat MRCFA is a human.
    hmmm... it's not immediately clear to me that she should have distinctively 'human' genes, but I can't quite put my finger on why. Before disagreeing with Dawkins on a matter of biology, I'll ask my resident geneticist over lunch at 2 and make sure I'm right (or wrong :))


  • Advertisement
  • Registered Users Posts: 4,188 ✭✭✭pH


    Yes but that woman may not be in the homo sapien species, it could much further back.
    comments?

    I'm trying to understand what you're asking. You are agreeing that logically a mitochondrial DNA MRCA exists just questioning if she was H.sapiens?

    Given that dating for H.sapiens is circa 200,000 BP and the dating for mitochondrial Eve measuring molecular drift in mitochondrial DNA is 140,000 years BP it looks likely she was, though other estimates (170,000 years +/- 50,000) make it a possibility that she was a little earlier.
    Dades wrote: »
    I confused as to how this reconciles with evolution.

    Surely there was never a "first" woman, just many female descendants at a similar stage in the evolutionary scale. And those many woman came from various other 'female' descendants right the way back to pond life...

    I repeat again - I am confused!

    Bloody creationists!


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,346 ✭✭✭Rev Hellfire


    I'm curious as to what people think is the significance of such a singularity? Keeping in mind this eve also would have had a line of mitochondrial decent also.
    It seems like a fancy game of degree's of bacon to me.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 25,848 ✭✭✭✭Zombrex


    I'm curious as to what people think is the significance of such a singularity?

    Significant in what way?


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 25,848 ✭✭✭✭Zombrex


    pH wrote: »
    I'm trying to understand what you're asking. You are agreeing that logically a mitochondrial DNA MRCA exists just questioning if she was H.sapiens?

    Oh right, is the the issue.

    Well TR the dating suggests that she was Homo Sapien.

    What did Dawkins actually say?


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,989 ✭✭✭Tim Robbins


    Wicknight wrote: »
    Yes but that is when you are just picking the line. The line is mother mother mother, but in each generation you can pick from all your great ... grand mothers.

    For example
    M-F    M-F  M-F   M-F   M-F   M-F
      |      |   |     |    |     |
      F  -  M   F  - M   M -  F
         |           |         |
         M    -   F          M
                |
                F
    
    The line comes down from the 3rd female, to the second female, to the first female ...

    But that doesn't mean there was only one woman alive in the first generation. There were 6 alive. And in this example they only produce one child. In reality they could produce many.

    Perhaps I'm not following exactly what is troubling you about this?
    I think you are misunderstanding me. I know there could have been (most likely were) other women alive at the sametime as the singularity. That's quite easy to understand. But my question is specific, is it logically possible for the MRCFA for the human species not to be a human? It seems to me it is, but it is evidence and theory which suggest it is not.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,346 ✭✭✭Rev Hellfire


    I'm asking why you think such an entity is important. What does its existence actually prove. For example its certainly not the origin of Homo Sapien.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,989 ✭✭✭Tim Robbins


    pH wrote: »
    I'm trying to understand what you're asking. You are agreeing that logically a mitochondrial DNA MRCA exists just questioning if she was H.sapiens?
    Basically, yes.

    Given that dating for H.sapiens is circa 200,000 BP and the dating for mitochondrial Eve measuring molecular drift in mitochondrial DNA is 140,000 years BP it looks likely she was, though other estimates (170,000 years +/- 50,000) make it a possibility that she was a little earlier.

    This would be the same as what I was saying in Today 12:45.


  • Registered Users Posts: 8,989 ✭✭✭Tim Robbins


    I'm asking why you think such an entity is important. What does its existence actually prove. For example its certainly not the origin of Homo Sapien.

    I find it fascinating that the MCRFA was a human.


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 25,558 Mod ✭✭✭✭Dades


    pH wrote: »
    Bloody creationists!
    I'd say using all my knowledge of DNA there must have been one single descendant.
    And she probably lived in a garden.


  • Advertisement
  • Closed Accounts Posts: 7,346 ✭✭✭Rev Hellfire


    I'm sure I'm missing something important here but it is just degree's of bacon we're talking about. We are not talking about a common singular ancestor for everyone, but rather the most common one (ie. highest bacon factor) ?
    I mean its cool in a that's cool sort of way but beyond that how ? Bear with me I'm stupid.


Advertisement