Common Ancestral Father Older than Thought

Guest_Jim_* - March 8, 2013 02:02PM in Science & Technology

It can be interesting to examine your family tree and see what important people you may be related to. Unfortunately you cannot take your family trees all the way back as records are lost and memories are forgotten. Genetically though, you can take it further back and it turns out that some of our genes go further back than we thought, as reported by New Scientist.

Scientists discovered some time ago that all men and women have two common ancestors, which have since been named 'mitochondrial Eve' and 'Y-chromosomal Adam,' because of what we have inherited from them. As the Y-chromosome is inherited exclusively from the father, it is possible to trace back the different mutations of the gene to a single ancestor. Previous work has placed that common father about 142,000 years into the past, but more recent research has pushed this date back to about 338,000 years ago. This research was initiated by the discovery of Y-chromosomes too different from others to have come from any-nearer an ancestor.

Interestingly this means the ancestral Y-chromosome actually developed before modern humans did, as our species is only about 195,000 years old. It also pushes 'Y-chromosomal Adam' back further than 'mitochondrial Eve' who is believed to have lived between 190,000 and 200,000 years ago. (To be clear, these are simply the ancestors whose family lines have not been broken even until modern day and not the only male or female of their own time.)

Source: New Scientist