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Palaeontology

'Genetic Adam' lived 239,000 years ago

By T.K. Randall
March 27, 2015 · Comment icon 16 comments



Our common male ancestor lived around 239,000 years ago. Image Credit: Charles R. Knight
A genome study has pinpointed when mankind's most recent common male ancestor would have lived.
The ambitious project sequenced the genomes of 2,636 Icelanders, the largest set ever obtained from a single nation.

The results indicated, among other things, that genetic mutations play a crucial role in the development of several different diseases.

They also revealed that the most recent common male ancestor of all humans alive today lived sometime around 239,000 years ago.
"What we have is a fairly detailed insight into the sequence of the genome of an entire nation," said neurologist Kari Stefansson. "This is a reasonably large step toward understanding how human diversity is dictated by diversity in the sequence of DNA."

The results seem to concur with those of a previous study which pinpointed the most recent common female ancestor of humanity to somewhere around 200,000 years ago.

"[Humans] are curious about where we came from, and how we became the way we are," said genetic anthropologist Agnar Helgason. "And this gives us a bit more information about when."

Source: The Verge | Comments (16)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #7 Posted by jarjarbinks 8 years ago
yeah why on Iceland ? Are we not from Africa?
Comment icon #8 Posted by Nefer-Ankhe 8 years ago
yeah why on Iceland ? Are we not from Africa? Ah, didn't I just answer that above?
Comment icon #9 Posted by fred_mc 8 years ago
Since Iceland is one of the least genetically diverse countries there is, I think that Iceland might not be the best place for this kind of study.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Father Merrin 8 years ago
Since Iceland is one of the least genetically diverse countries there is, I think that Iceland might not be the best place for this kind of study. Somebody of your skill and knowledge should do their own genetic testing elsewhere then
Comment icon #11 Posted by furiousity 8 years ago
C'mon people... common ancestor means it doesn't matter what country you sample from.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Father Merrin 8 years ago
C'mon people... common ancestor means it doesn't matter what country you sample from. Explain
Comment icon #13 Posted by DieChecker 8 years ago
C'mon people... common ancestor means it doesn't matter what country you sample from. It certainly does. If you tested only people of Norwegian decent you'd end up with a common ancestor like 1500 years ago located in northern Europe. If you test native Australians, Native Americans, Innuits, Europeans, sub-Saharan Africans, and Chinese all together, then you'll end up with a much wider range of genetic markers and thus be able to back calculate those changes to much more accurately find when the last common ancestor was.
Comment icon #14 Posted by Zalmoxis 8 years ago
That is intriguing. This genetic research though it tracks all of our definite shared ancestors as the oldest male being 239,000 years ago and female 200,000 years ago that doesn't mean that the first human appeared at that time. Humans are older as a species. There were humans that came before him that are not shared in all human blood but shared in a smaller group. I would agree that they should test other racial groups more thoroughly as well.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Professor Buzzkill 8 years ago
That is intriguing. This genetic research though it tracks all of our definite shared ancestors as the oldest male being 239,000 years ago and female 200,000 years ago that doesn't mean that the first human appeared at that time. Humans are older as a species. There were humans that came before him that are not shared in all human blood but shared in a smaller group. I would agree that they should test other racial groups more thoroughly as well. I also heard that. It makes you wonder how "Adam" was 40,000 years ahead of "Eve". The only way that makes sense is if the "human" population was no ... [More]
Comment icon #16 Posted by Gingitsune 8 years ago
So how did we overcome the initial "tiny" gene pool without succumbing to sever genetic problems? When a new spicies start to differenciate itself from the one which she originate from, the individuals from both the old one and the new one can still reproduce together. That's how it prevent bottle necking too early in the game. Why focus on Iceland? Because they have DNA of their whole population available for scientific research. Of course, there will be a lot of viking descendants, but there are surely some Icenlanders in the database who are of recent African ancestry. As long as they have ... [More]


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