Mother of All Humans Lived 6,000 Years Ago | The Institute for Creation Research

Mother of All Humans Lived 6,000 Years Ago

Inside a human cell's mitochondria--the tiny organelles that provide energy--there is a small and unique chromosome. This loop of DNA is passed from mother to child in every generation and provides an intriguing source of information about mankind's past. Geneticists are using that information in an attempt to determine exactly when the "mother" of all humans lived.

Studies involving this mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, raise a number of questions. First, is it possible to reconstruct a putative first mother's mtDNA sequence? And if so, how does it compare to that of modern humans--her many descendants? Also, is there enough information in today's mtDNA to deduce when the figurative first mother--named "Mitochondrial Eve"--lived?

When investigations into these questions began a few decades ago, optimism was high regarding the possibility of pinpointing that first mother's date. But studies have since shown that the data alone are not enough to provide an answer. A certain number of starting assumptions are required, and when researchers' different assumptions are applied, the data can yield very different "ages" for Mitochondrial Eve. A review of the earliest calculations, published in the evolutionary journal Science in 1998, showed that:

Regardless of the cause, evolutionists are most concerned about the effect of a faster mutation rate. For example, researchers have calculated that "mitochondrial Eve"--the woman whose mtDNA was ancestral to that in all living people—lived 100,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa. Using the new clock, she would be a mere 6000 years old. No one thinks that's the case, but at what point should models switch from one mtDNA time zone to the other?1

So, to align the age with current evolutionary theories of human origins, subsequent calculations have started with assumptions that ensure at the outset that Mitochondrial Eve would have lived more than 100,000 years ago. Thus, evolution-inspired Mitochondrial Eve research is largely characterized by circular reasoning--evolutionary assumptions of deep time are used as an interpretive filter that (not surprisingly) then yields deep-time results.

This was made abundantly clear in a Rice University press release regarding the latest attempt to determine when Mitochondrial Eve lived. Researchers used a new statistical method that supposedly assured that the "Mother of all humans lived 200,000 years ago."2

But in explaining how they obtained this number, the researchers inadvertently admitted their bias that partially determined the outcome before they even began calculating. The press release described some of the steps required to interpret DNA base differences "into a measure of time."2

"And how they evolved in time depends upon the model of evolution that you use,"2 according to study co-author Krzysztof Cyran of Poland's Institute of Informatics at Silesian University of Technology. Of course, when one begins with an evolutionary model, one must expect evolutionary results.

Each model added coefficients that are numerically expressed answers to key questions, such as the rate of DNA base change, the effect of mutational hot spots, what DNA sequence to use for comparison (which, for evolutionists, is often from the chimpanzee), and the time between each generation.3 But many of those numbers were assumed:

Each model has its own assumptions, and each assumption has mathematical implications. To further complicate matters, some of the assumptions are not valid for human populations. For example, some models assume that population size never changes.2

But the best available data are still most consistent with the earlier studies that showed that the age of Mitochondrial Eve coincided well with the biblical age of the historical Eve.

For example, a 2008 study of the mitochondrial chromosome found that "on average, the individuals in our dataset differed from the Eve consensus by 21.6 nucleotides."4 The investigators did not expect to find so few differences between their over 800 samples of modern DNA and the calculated sequence for "Eve."

Further, for so few--only 21.6 nucleotides out of 16,569--DNA differences to have accumulated at anything near the measured mutation rates, a much shorter time than "200,000 years" must have transpired since Mitochondrial Eve arrived on the scene.

To stretch out across evolutionary time the occurrences of so few DNA changes requires a gymnastic juggling of the coefficients used in the various models, and appears to require a biologically unrealistic, super-slow mutation rate. Making the data fit vast timescales requires the use of a broken, circular-reasoning-based, evolutionary "clock."

References

  1. Gibbons, A. 1998. Calibrating the Mitochondrial Clock. Science. 279 (5347):28-29.
  2. Mother of all humans lived 200,000 years ago. Rice University press release, August 17, 2010, reporting on research published in Cyran, K. A. and M. Kimmel. Alternatives to the Wright-Fisher model: The robustness of mitochondrial Eve dating. Theoretical Population Biology. Published online ahead of print June 19, 2010.
  3. Mutational hot spots are areas in the mitochondrial chromosome that experience base changes between generations so rapidly that all four DNA bases may have cycled through in only thousands of years, thus skewing attempts at reconstructing mitochondrial DNA clocks. See Galtier, N. et al. 2006. Mutation hot spots in mammalian mitochondrial DNA. Genome Research. 16 (2): 215-222.
  4. Carter, R. W., D. Criswell, and J. Sanford. 2008. The "Eve" Mitochondrial Consensus Sequence. In Proceedings of the Sixth International Conference on Creationism. Snelling, A. A, ed. Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship and Dallas, TX: Institute for Creation Research, 111-116.

* Mr. Thomas is Science Writer at the Institute for Creation Research.

Article posted on September 7, 2010.

The Latest
NEWS
Great American Outdoors Act, Signed into Law by President
In a bipartisan legislative achievement to promote better stewardship of American public lands, U.S. Senators and Representatives finalized their bill...

NEWS
Grandmothers, Eat Fish to Protect Your Brains!
This month the American Academy of Neurology published a medical science study showing that senior women can fight air pollution hazards, including brain...

NEWS
Embarrassment Continues over Evolutionary Blunder about “Junk...
Recent research from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University (OIST) continues to highlight how evolutionary theory influenced...

NEWS
God’s Plan Is Best: Salmon Need Saltwater Acclimation
Once again, results are better when aquaculture imitates the natural life cycle of Atlantic salmon.1,2 In other words, the closer fish farmers...

NEWS
Inside August 2020 Acts & Facts
Have you heard about ICR’s new President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza? What can we learn from an old prayer? Is creation evidence...

NEWS
After 30 Years, Red Kites Soar in British Skies
Good news is always welcome. So, it’s good to learn of another conservation comeback. This time it’s the red kite happily soaring in Great...

CREATION PODCAST
Meet Dr. G
Hear the history and heart of ICR’s newly appointed President and Chief Operating Officer, Dr. Randy Guliuzza. He has served as ICR’s National...

ACTS & FACTS
'Doing Business' in Good Times and Bad
No doubt many of you, like me, have been earnestly looking for the return of the Lord Jesus Christ. He called all believers to be godly “salt”...

APOLOGETICS
Sentinels Are Needed in Perilous Times
Watch out! Dangers lurk everywhere—these are surely perilous times.1 One of the apologetics-exhorting themes in Jude’s epistle...

ACTS & FACTS
Why Don't Raindrops Bomb Butterfly Wings?
Okay, I admit most folks have probably not thought to ask this creation question. But a bigger question gets answered when we examine the fantastic...