Scientific Methods

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Ever since the American Geneticist, Rebecca Cann and colleagues had published their paper in 1987 on the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and evolution to resolve the old dispute surrounding the birthplace of Homo sapiens, which indeed was Africa, they also came up with new evidence which suggested that the modern hominids had originated as a single genetic line (Oppenheimer 2003). This genetic line dates back approximately 200 000 years before present and goes back to where H. sapiens and H. neanderthalensis shared a common ancestor (Oppenheimer 2003). With the assistance of the mtDNA, geneticist could now traced the time, major events in human history and most important, the Mitochondrial Eve or the single common ancestor (Oppenheimer 2003, Hagelberg 2003). The label Eve did not refer to a single, individual women as misunderstood by the media, but rather as a female genetic line or a clan. In fact the whole human population are derived from a clan between 2000 and 10 000 humans that lived in Africa (Oppenheimer 2003).

The history around the migration of Europeans from Africa or later from Asia was a bit of an issue and it challenged the scientific community at that time. According to Oppenheimer (2003), the origin of Europeans is indeed from the East, which are explained by the human genetic markers. Oppenheimer (2003) goes further and states that the Europeans did not come directly from Africa, but from somewhere near the Indian subcontinent, which rejected assumptions of an early African exodus.
The ancestors of the Europeans or the Nasreen clan came from Africa at least 80 000 years before present but they only inhabited Europe approximately 30 000 years later (Oppenheimer 2003). One would ask, why did they colonize Europe so late? Its late in comparison with their sister clan Manju, which arrived in Australia over 60000 years ago, which is on the other side of the world. The main reason for that, were climatic factors as most of Europe was inaccessible due to the ice and the big desert between Syria and the Indian Ocean (Oppenheimer 2003).

During his study (Sykes 2001), Prof B. Sykes has identified seven major genetic clusters among Europeans and within these clusters he has found that 95% of all modern Europeans can be placed within one of these groups. By knowing the rate of mutation, Sykes also calculated the time of origin of these clan as well as their geographical hotspots. He gave each of the clusters a name according Antonio Torroni classification system, namely: U-Ursula, X-Xenia, H-Helena, V-Velda, T-Tara, K-Katerine and J-Jasmine.
Each of these women lived in different environments, which means they had different struggles and had to adapt to their surrounding to complement their lifestyle.

·Oppenheimer S (2003) Out of Africa's Eden. Jonathan Ball Publishers (PTY) Ltd, Jeppestown. pp 45, 46, 85, 86, 129-131.
·Sykes B (2001) The Seven Daughters of Eve. Transworld Publishers, London. pp 243-250.
·Hagelberg E (2003) Recombination or mutation rate heterogeneity? Implication for Mitochondrial Eve. Trends in Genetics, Vol.19. pp 84-90

Bentley Engelbrecht
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
Tel: 0832082286


  • Try and get your italics sorted out.

    When you use the abbreviated form e.g. H. sapiens you should spell out Homo once in the beginning and therafter use the abbreviated form.

    You can use the HTML view of your GroupWise to format the look of your document.

    The . before references? e.g. .Oppenheimer

    Although referenced other authors felt that Modern Man left africa as recently as 65 000 years ago - certainly there is need for revision of when modern man arrived in Europe possibly 45-49 000 years - see

    (copy and paste the url)

    You do need to check the dates of your references and determine if more recent "discoveries" have been made.

    By Blogger Rich Knight, at Tuesday, April 11, 2006 11:08:00 AM  

  • Well written abstract, I'm really looking forward to hear more about these seven women.

    By Anonymous Monique, at Thursday, April 13, 2006 3:02:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home