Re: African Eve

Dr. Guy Hoelzer (
Mon, 9 May 1994 16:16:29 GMT

In article <2qbl69$>,
(Patrick H. Adkins) wrote:
> From: (dmitry pruss)
> Subject: Re: African Eve
> DP> The problem with mit DNA analysis in H.sapiens was that it produced
> too counterituitive results - and wasn't paralleled by anything
> similar on other modern (recently evolved) species.
> [interesting material (thanks!) deleted]
> One of the things I don't understand about this approach is _whose_ mit DNA
> are we tracing back to? For instance, if we have an "Eve" (individual with a
> mutation that makes her the first of what will become H. sapiens), why should
> we presume that the mit DNA originated with her--instead of with her non-
> mutated mother, grandmother, or some still more distant ancestor, perhaps
> even an earlier species. Why should be presume that mit DNA leads back to
> the beginning of H. sapiens, instead of H. erecti, H habilis, etc?
> Sorry if this is an uninformed question.
> ---
> SLMR 2.1a Just say no to Big Government.

We don't trace back to Eve's mother because we are interesting in the "most
recent" common ancestor. Any other point would be arbitrary. We could
trace mtDNA ancestors back to the original event of endosymbiosis from
which mitochondria originated. To answer your second question, the most
recent mtDNA common ancestor was not necessarily H. sapiens. She could
theoretically have belonged to any of the taxa you mentioned.

Guy Hoelzer
Dept. of Biology
University of Nevada Reno
Reno, NV 89557