Thursday, March 23, 2006

Travelling Great-grandparents

Stranger! If you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me? And why should I not speak to you? ~To You/Leaves of Grass/Walt Whitman
If you meet someone that you don't know on the streets, it's reasonable to think of that person as a stranger. But I just read in this month's Geographics that even though he's not someone you know, he's still someone who's related to you!
"Scientists now calculate that all living humans are related to a single woman who lived roughly 150,000 years ago in Africa, a "mitochondrial Eve." She was not the only woman alive at that time, but if geneticists are right, all of humanity is linked to Eve through an unbroken chain of mothers. Mitochondrial Eve was soon joined by "Y chromosome Adam," an analogous father of us all, also from Africa. Increasingly refined DNA studies have confirmed this opening chapter of our story over and over: All the variously shaped and shaded people of Earth trace their ancestry to African hunter-gatherers."
The stranger you meet on the train is technically a distant relative with the same great-great-great...grandparents! The Geographics also has this very interesting thing going, called The Genographic Project. It invites folks to pay USD100+++ to have their DNA samples analysed to see how exactly their ancestors travelled from Africa to Europe, Asia and so on. Yeah, I know my most immediate ancestors look Chinese. But before that, they were Africans. So how did they walk from Africa? What route did they take? Very intriguing indeed...

Update: The results can be found here.

3 comments:

nx said...

If one were to believe in evolution, wouldn't he naturally believe that all humans descended from a single ancestor?

Victoria said...

hey jeff.. remember me? just dropping by to say how r u and where r u?
Victoria

jeffyen said...

nx: Not necessary. I'm not really a student of genetics, so I'm not sure about the technicalities. But even in terms of evolution, I guess one could hypothesize that there were many 'Eves' who lived in various continents who somehow evolved independently of other Eves. A person could then be descended from any one of these Eves.

But if there were only one Eve, then things become more interesting, I feel...

Hey Victoria! I'm in Singapore! ;)