Thursday, July 25, 2024

Use Mitochondrial DNA Testing To Trace Your Lineage

March 20, 2010 by  
Filed under DNA Testing

In his book, “The Seven Daughters Of Eve”, Oxford University Professor Brian Sykes uses research obtained through mitochondrial DNA testing on specimens extracted from the Iceman to back up his conclusion that all people on Earth are direct descendants of one of the seven daughters of Eve and therefore, direct descendants of Eve herself. In essence his theory proposes that there really was one woman to begin with and that through mitochondrial DNA testing, we find that we are all descended directly from her.

The opposing theory is that there had to have been more than one woman in order for the human race to grow fast enough and survive the harsh climate. But this theory only means that there may have actually been more than one Eve. Theological discussions aside, I find it intriguing that it would be possible to use mitochondrial DNA testing to trace our lineage back to the dawn of time, whether it’s to one woman or several women. Think of it. My ancestor may have lived in the cave right next door to yours! They may have exchanged recipes for barbecued Mastodon and Spicy Pterodactyl wings!

Mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA as it’s commonly referred to, is passed from the mother to her offspring, both male and female. But the male does not pass it on to his offspring. It’s only passed by the mother. So my mother passed it to me, her mother passed it to her, and so on. The reason it’s so easily traced is because mtDNA rarely mutates or changes in any way. So I share exactly the same mtDNA with my mother that she shares with her mother.

However, every few thousand years a change or mutation does take place in the mtDNA which creates a new ‘branch’ in the ancestral tree. It’s by following all of these branches back through the centuries and centuries that human beings have been in existence that Professor Sykes has determined we’re all descended from 7 different women who all share the same mother – Eve.

If you’re a fan of Dan Brown then you’re familiar with his now world famous book, “The DaVinci Code”. This book created quite a stir when it proposed that not only was Jesus married but he also had children. Imagine being able to trace your lineage all the way back to the wife of Jesus. And of course, Jesus had a mother so that means you would also be related to her and all of her ancestors. And if you could trace it that far, and be that specific, then you probably could trace it all the way back to Eve as well. And whether it’s one Eve or seven, or even seventy Eves, how interesting would that be?

Regardless of which theory is right, or if either is right, the fact is we’re all related somewhere in time. At some point there was a beginning. It may have been a ‘Big Bang’ that took place over thousands of years or it may have been an over night ‘Creation’ but if you perform the mitochondrial DNA testing back through the eons you’ll see that we really are all related to the Seven Daughters Of Eve.

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