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Mitochondrial Eve
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Oddity
    Estimated to have lived between 99,000 and 200,000 years ago
    Probably lived in East Africa
    The most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all currently living humans with respect to matrilineal decent (decent through all-female lineages)
    Existence based on the fact that mitochondria, and thus mitochondrial DNA, are passed to offspring solely through mothers
    Age estimated based on mutation rates for mitochondrial DNA
    Research performed by UC Berkeley biochemist Allan Wilson and his graduate students
    Findings published in the journal 'Nature' (January 1, 1987)
    The name 'Mitochondrial Eve' was never used by the scientists who studied her, but was coined by the media as a catchy phrase.
    The use of 'Eve' as a name caused some creationists to declare that the Book of Genesis had been proven true.
    Despite what the 'Eve' name implies, she was not the only woman alive at the time.
    In fact, some of Mitochondrial Eve's female contemporaries may themselves have living descendants, just not through a purely matrilineal lineage. (For example, if Eve's contemporary Betty gave birth only to sons and one of those sons married one of Eve's daughters, then Betty's mitochondrial DNA wasn't handed down, but she was still an ancestor to some fraction of humanity.)
    She also was not the first human female, but had a mother, grandmother, etc.
    She has a male counterpart, 'Y-chromosome Adam,' but there is no evidence that the two of them lived within the same millennium, much less were a couple.
    We are all related to her.
    She is a reminder of how closely connected we all are despite our differences.
    She existed, which is more than can be said for certain about the Biblical Eve.
    She provided support for the 'out of Africa' theory of the evolution of modern humans.
    She gave you her mitochondria and asked for nothing in return.

Credit: C. Fishel


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