Y Chromosome Shows That Adam Was an African

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Science  31 Oct 1997:
Vol. 278, Issue 5339, pp. 804-805
DOI: 10.1126/science.278.5339.804

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In the beginning, there was mitochondrial Eve--a woman who lived in Africa between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago and was ancestral to all living humans. Geneticists traced her identity by analyzing DNA passed exclusively from mother to daughter in the mitochondria, energy-producing organelles in the cell. Scientists have been searching ever since for "Adam," the man whose Y chromosome was passed on to every living man and boy. Now two international teams have found the genetic trail leading to Adam--and it points to the same time and place where mitochondrial Eve lived. Described this month at a symposium on human evolution at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory in New York, the genetic trail is so clear that it allows researchers to compare the migration patterns of men and women tens of thousands of years ago (see sidebar).

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