The Question of Eve

Are present day humans the descendants of an African Eve who lived less than 200,000 years ago? Or, must we go back a million years when humans left Africa in a series of migrations. At the root of the current controversy over the origins of humanity is whether the biblical version of creation has any scientific validity, or are the theories of evolution the real truth behind the origins of man. Natural selection and random variation is the basis of the theory of evolution, and it is genetic aberrations that creates the random variation that make natural selection work. Natural selection is not the author but the editor of humanity.

Human variation is the biological basis of evolution, and it is based on genetic differences. Charles Darwin is described as the father of the theory of evolution, but Darwin was a firm believer in creationism before and after his famous voyage with the Beagle. It was not until he started reviewing his notes that he found the mechanism of change and called it natural selection. In his "Origin of the Species" he founded two ideas, natural selection and random variation. Charles Darwin was not the first person to use the term evolution, he put a twist on the concept. Matthew Hale developed the original concept of evolution. Darwin only identified the mechanism of evolution, natural selection.

Darwin had a hunch on human origins, that humans originated in Africa. His reasoning was based on the human physiological relationship to apes and that the majority of apes come from Africa. Archeological data since his time has proven he was indeed correct, as the oldest human fossils are found in Africa.

The branch of humanity known as Homo Erectus was the first hominid to migrate out of Africa and into the old world. Homo erectus took his culture and tools, fire and shelter, with him in his wanderings into Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. He was the predecessor to Homo Sapiens Neaderthalensis.

Scientists have been trying to understand how the forces of natural selection could explain the fact that the first Homo Sapiens Sapiens, or fully modern humans appeared in South Africa around 100,000 B.C. Within 70,000 years they had completely replaced all other previous species of homo in the old world, including the descendants of Homo Erectus, Homo Sapiens Neadertahlensis. There are currently four major hypothesis about the strange relationship between Homo Sapiens Neaderthalensis and Homo Sapiens Sapiens.

The pre-sapiens hypothesis believes that some type of pre-sapiens served to bridge the gap between Homo Erectus and Homo sapiens. This theory, which dates back to the early days of Archeology claims that Homo sapiens and Neanderthals are two independent branches from Homo erectus, unfortunately there has yet to be any fossil record to support this Hypothesis.

Dr. Jerry Moore of California State University, Dominguez Hills has proposed what he has termed the "Homeboys" hypothesis. Dr. Moore has suggested the idea that Neanderthals are the ancestor of fully modern humans, but there were two different populations of each. One group of humans developing in Europe, and another group developing in Asia each parallel to the other. Dr. Moore also provides the fallacy of his own theory, he claims that the traits between Neanderthal groups are closer than the Neanderthalensis to Sapiens traits.

The Gene flow hypothesis believes that Homo Sapiens Sapiens simply out reproduced Neanderthals either through interbreeding, or racial superiority, or a combination of both. A recent research on two Chinese hominid skulls show both features of Homo Erectus and Homo sapiens. These skulls show that some type of transition between the different branches of humanity was taking place in Asia.

Replacement theory or Eve theory is the basis of the controversy over the origins of man. The Eve theory starts with an analysis of Mitrochandral DNA 1. Scientists are trying to plot the rate of mutation to determine if all Homo sapiens sapiens originated from a single mother. This hypothesis gained major scientific support when in 1987 biochemists from Berkeley University in California announced that by computer tracking of Mitrochandral DNA all humanity could be traced to a single african woman, the alleged mother of humanity. If thier chemical analysis of mitochondrial DNA is valid, then the eve theory is true, and a second group of humanity replaced all other groups on Earth. The important point in understanding the Eve Theory is that Mitrochandral DNA clones only from the mother, and that mutation is the only source of variation.

Mutation is the alteration of genetic material. These alterations are inheritable. They are the creative force in evolution. At present scientists do not understand what causes the mutations to occur. Mutation of mitochondrial occurs in very low rates. For a given gene only one mutation in 100,000 sex cells. The majority of these mutations are neutral, they give no advantage nor limitation in the struggle for survival that is the heart of evolution theory.

Supporters in the view of human origins as stated in the book of Genesis state with blind belief that the Eve theory is absolute proof that the story of human beginnings in the Bible is correct. These scientific creationists fail to examine several fallacies in the Eve theory.

In examining the fossils and tools of hominid development one would expect to find physical evidence of a new technology replacement. If Eve's descendants migrated into Asia their artifact evolution must have been identical to the neanderthals they replaced. A prime example of tool duplication is the Acheulian hand axe. The Acheulian hand axe the first real tool in human development. It is a stone tool that combines the functions of both hammer, knife, and chopper. In Asia were the stone hand axe never developed, bamboo tools developing in its place. The Acheulian hand axe is always found in the Homo Erectus finds of africa. The hominid's sights in Asian have yet to contain chopper tools. No acheulian hand axe as been found in areas where there is bamboo, since bamboo can do many of the functions acheulian hand axe. If the Eve theory is true then both groups to inhabit Asia failed to bring the more efficient hand axe with them.

Perhaps the most important fact in considering if all humans are progeny of Eve is that all homo sapiens sapiens should have those African features that developed 200,000 years ago. Milford H. Wolpoff of the University of Michigan insists that Neanderthal genes did flow into the evolutionary mainstream. Part of Wolpoff's proof is the nose on such people as Charles de Gaulle, Jimmy Durante, or any number of British knights. He states:

"These large noses are Neanderthal features. If all modern humans descended from a group of Africans who began migrating northward between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago, I am hard pressed to explain the origin of these noses. No Africans, ancient or modern, have noses like that."

Cross-breeding is a common occurrence, and only requires that the two groups of hominid were genetically similar enough to produce offspring biologically compatible for sustained reproduction. It is unlikely that the invading homo sapiens sapiens would not interbreed with conquered peoples. The minority of invaders would either die off or interbreed. Mankind's drive to create progeny is a powerful motivating force.

Language may have also been the important factor in the success of homo sapiens sapiens over homo sapiens Neaderthalensis. Unlike the Neanderthal, fully modern humans had all the vocal equipment. Their pharynges had grown proportionally much larger than those of previous hominids, and their tongues had an increased flexibility that enabled them to form and emit a much wider range of sounds in quick succession. With language homo sapiens sapiens could pass on technological knowledge and mastermind complex cooperative ventures.

If we are to believe the supporters of the Eve hypothesis then the earliest humans appeared in Africa, and their progeny covered all the old world in migrations of hundred of thousands of years. It would be impossible to expect the transition form between evolutionary changes to be a perfect half of each species. The original transition form would itself evolve into new directions. As early as 1873 this concept was developed by Dr. George Mivart, professor of comparative anatomy at St. Mary college London, Vice president of the Zoological Society, member of the Royal Society. He believed that the basic human form is shared by so many, and in such diverse forms that it would be impossible to arrange a single ascending series. He also believed that each of the different forms of man must have independently evolved in more than one area.

Recently developed dating techniques cast even more doubt on the Eve theory. Utilizing the new ESR (Electron Spin Resonance) dating technique Ofer Bar-Yosef of Harvard University, and his colleague Eitan Tchernov, of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem proved that Neanderthals did not lead early modern humans but, rather they were counterparts. Thier evidence lends even further support that modern humans were contemporary with the Neanderthals.

The basis of all major theories is that the earliest humans appeared in Africa. The Eve hypothesis has several other consequences that must be considered. The first of these is that the descendants of Eve replaced all other groups on earth. If so, her descendants, including modern man, ought to have african features. Contemporary humankind would look very different if Eve theory was correct. The view that no interbreeding took place between the different species has already been shown be incorrect. Although it is possible for one group to replace another group, there is no evidence of the global mass extinction of a racial category.

From the evidence, the deductions that can be made regarding the theory of hominid beginnings are that the earliest humans appeared in africa but the were ancestral to the alleged african Eve. Further deductions are that they migrated hundreds of thousand of years to areas as remote as asia. For at least a hundred and fifty thousand years Eve's progeny did not differ significantly either biologically and culturally from the homininds they supposedly replaced. People in Asia and Australia do not possess african traits that developed only two thousand years ago (but they do posses asian traits). There is nothing in the human experience to show anything other than that sexual needy people from Africa would not hesitate to mate with European neanderthals.

Considering all the facts it is unlikely that the Eve theory holds any real credibility in explaining human beginnings.

UPDATE:13/05/2003
An Italian study has concluded that fully modern humans contain no genetic material from Neanderthals. In this study DNA from the skeletons of Homo sapiens sapiens dated between 23,000 and 25,000 years ago, and DNA from skeletons of Neanderthal dated 29,000 to 42,000 years ago was compared. The study found that Homo sapiens sapiens differ widely in their genetic makeup from Neanderthals. According to the researchers that suggests that the human geneome has no links to the Neanderthal gene pool.

{endnote 1} Within the Mitrochandral DNA there is 37 genes. These small, two-strand rings of organelles clone only from the mother, and only source of variations is mutation.