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Update: When Did the Genetic Adam and Eve Live?

Two new studies indicate that the ancestor of all males lived between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago, very close to the time that the ancestor of all females lived (100,000 to 150,000 years ago). This latest result readily harmonizes with the biblical account of human origins, adding credibility to the idea that all humanity traces its origin back to a primordial pair, an Adam and an Eve.

Recent headlines created a fair amount of interest when scientists announced the discovery of the genetic ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve.’

These popular science articles were based on two papers published in the August 2, 2013 edition of Science.1 By analyzing Y chromosome sequences recovered from men around the world, two independent research teams concluded separately that the last ancestor of all men lived between 120,000 and 156,000 years ago and 180,000 to 200,000 years ago, respectively. One team also concluded that the ancestor of all females lived between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago.

This discovery confirms other studies conducted in the past couple of years that also indicate the coexistence of mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam. Prior to this recent work, the prevailing view among anthropologists placed the genesis of the maternal lineage of humanity much further back (about 200,000 years ago), than the male line (only about 50,000 years ago).

These new results have implications for both evolutionary and creation models for human origins.

Many scientists (operating from within the evolutionary paradigm) are quick to point out that the first ancestors of humanity weren’t Adam and Eve, because they were merely two among thousands of individuals who lived at that time. Yet, when viewed from a creation model perspective, a reasonable case can be made that these results harmonize quite well with the biblical account of humanity’s beginnings.

To find out how these and other results from molecular anthropology relate to the biblical account of human origins, see these two articles:

  1. Rebecca L. Cann, “Y Weigh In Again on Modern Humans,” Science 341 (August 2, 2013): 465–67;G. David Poznik et al., “Sequencing Y Chromosomes Resolves Discrepancy in Time to Common Ancestor of Males Versus Females,” Science 341 (August 2, 2013): 562–65; Paolo Francalacci et al., “Low-Pass DNA Sequencing of 1200 Sardinians Reconstructs European Y-Chromosome Phylogeny,” Science 341 (August 2, 2013): 565–69.