Cann et al sequenced mitochondrial DNA from around the world to show that all women were descended from a single woman who lived some time around 200,000 years ago. (Similar work was also done for the Y chromosome and the male lineage.) One of the possible interpretations of this study was that the single woman was Eve.
The scientist Francisco Ayala did not like this interpretation. To do him justice, it is indeed possible that there were many women alive at the time of the woman progenitor “Eve”, and that their lineages died out over time. Nontheless, Ayala set out to to not merely challenge but to disprove even the possibility of an historical Eve (and Adam), using the same sequencing and phylogenetic analysis methods that Cann et al had used. For his study he chose to analyze a highly variable gene, HLA-DRB1, that is part of our immune system.
No surprise. Whoever controls the story of our origins, controls our future as well. And give these people credit for knowing what they want.
A few years later another group headed by Tomas Bergström challenged Ayala’s work, saying that he chose the wrong piece of DNA to study. The PBS sequence was inappropriate because it suffered from a high mutation rate and a high rate of gene conversion, both of which would cause an overestimation of the number of lineages for this gene.
But a lot depends on what facts are thought to matter and how much, and who is allowed to originate such facts.
See also: Interview with BioLogic Institute’s Ann Gauger. Her research has been published in Nature, Development, and the Journal of Biological Chemistry
Adam and Eve and Ann Gauger
Also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips (human evolution)
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