Paper Abstracts

Y Chromosome Noah and mitochondrial Eve

R.W. Carter, S. Lee, J.C. Sanford

Discipline: Biology

Abstract: The existence of a literal Adam and Eve is hotly debated, even within the Christian body. Now that many full-length human Y (chrY) and mitochondrial (chrM) chromosome sequences have been sequenced and made publicly available, it may be possible to bring clarity to this question. We have used these data to comprehensively analyze the historical changes in these two chromosomes, starting with the sequences of people alive today, and working backwards to the ancestral sequence of the family groups to which they belong. The analyses of the chrY and chrM histories were done separately and in parallel. Remarkably, both analyses gave very similar results. First, the pattern displayed in both datasets supports a massive expansion of the human lineage, with multiple new branches forming from closely-related individuals. Second, for both chromosomes, the mutation rate along each branch has not been the same through time. Third, both phylogenetic trees display a starburst pattern that centers around specific historical individuals, nearly all of whom lived in the Middle East. Fourth, we can know with a very high degree of confidence the actual sequences of the historical individuals that gave rise to each branch in both family trees. Fifth, within a reasonable margin of error we can approximate the sequence of Y chromosome Adam/Noah and Mitochondrial Eve. Sixth, given a few reasonable assumptions, we can estimate the time to Y Chromosome Adam/Noah and Mitochondrial Eve. Both individuals lived less than 10,000 years ago, which is most consistent with a biblical timeframe. Lastly, recurrent mutations are extremely common, and many of them are associated with epigenetic CpG sites, meaning mutation accumulation is not free of environmental influence and many mutations may have accumulated in different lineages in parallel. The genetic evidence strongly suggests that Y Chromosome Adam/Noah and Mitochondrial Eve were not just real people, they were the progenitors of us all. In this light, there is every reason to believe that they were the Adam/Noah and Eve of the Bible.