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Real 'Adam' Lived About 209,000 Years Ago

First Posted: Jan 23, 2014 09:00 PM EST
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The first common male ancestor to all human beings existed about 209,000 years ago -- an estimated 9,000 earlier than scientists have long believed, says research from the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom.

The new findings, collected by Dr. Eran Elhaik of the University of Sheffield, in South Yorkshire, and Dr. Dan Graur from the University of Houston, are considered a paradigm-changer in the field of biological research. They draw significantly different chronological conclusions about the so-called "Adam" than conventional models that were used to date the hominin progenitor's place in the evolutionary timeline.

In other words, the new study suggests "Adam" indeed lived around the same time as "Eve," the genetic maternal ancestor of humankind.

"We can say with some certainty that modern humans emerged in Africa a little over 200,000 years ago. It is obvious that modern humans did not interbreed with hominins living over 500,000 years ago," said Elhaik in a release.

A recent Stanford University School of Medicine study suggested "Adam" and "Eve" weren't contemporaries, let alone a couple. They also weren't the only man and woman alive at the time, or the only ones with descendants living today.

Current theory says there were two individuals, one male and one female, who passed down a portion of their genomes to most of humanity.

However, the newest data estimates most men alive today can trace their origins to one male who lived between 120,000 to 156,000 years ago and most women today are genetically linked to one female who lived between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago.

That means those first two ancestors more likely than not didn't know each other very well, if at all.

It's clear "there was no single 'Adam and Eve' but rather groups of 'Adams and Eves' living side by side and wandering together in our world," Elhaik said.

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