Re: New fossil finds (fwd)

Greg Laden (gladen@HUSC.HARVARD.EDU)
Wed, 20 Dec 1995 01:07:01 -0500

On Wed, 20 Dec 1995, Ania Lian wrote:

> On Tue, 21 Nov 1995, Elaine Hills (UND) wrote:
> If so, what does this do to the mitochondrial Eve? I read that her age
> might be pushed to about milion years ago i.e. that there was about a
> 1 milion years ago fonly ew of us and we were monomitochondrial.
> Maybe we were mono earlier? It sound rather improbable that only one kind
> of group (both in Africa and in China) survived the "bottle neck" ???

We were likely never "monomitochondrial". The so called Eve represents
not a person, or a bottleneck in population (in and of itself) but rather
a convergence of modern mitochondrial diversity on a common ancestor,
that was certainly one of several mitochondrial variants (and of course
we are talking about genes here, not mitochondria, but whatever) around
at the same time. The idea of a small population size is based on one or
a small number of models that explain the modern diversity in a
particular way. These models are hard to construct and are not likely to
be, on their own in the absence of other evidence, very useful.
Harpending has suggested five (I think) different populations, each
isolated and small (but with one, the African, being much larger than the
others), for example.

The bits and pieces of evidence found recently in Asia are just a couple
more to add to a growing list of early non-African early dates for
hominids, represented by either artifacts or fossils. Nothing is very
certain at this time (and a bunch of uncertainties in this case don't add
up to a certainty or a semi-certainty!). But this isn't really related
to the issue of Eve, or to the origin of modern humans. These early
finds may easily be hominids that have little or nothing to do with the
history and evolution of Homo sapiens in particular.



Greg Laden
Department of Anthropology
Harvard University
11 Divinity Avenue
Cambridge MA 02138

"It is a wise child that knows his own father."

"It is a wise father that knows his own child."
--William Shakespeare