In human genetics, Y-chromosomal Adam (Y-mrca) is the patrilineal human most recent common ancestor (mrca) from whom all Y chromosomes in living men are descended. Y-chromosomal Adam is thus the male counterpart of Mitochondrial Eve (the mt-mrca), the matrilineal human most recent common ancestor, from whom all mitochondrial DNA in living humans is descended.
By analyzing DNA from people in all regions of the world, geneticist Spencer Wells has concluded that all humans alive today are descended from a single man who lived in Africa around 60,000 years ago.
Y-chromosomal Adam probably lived between 60,000 and 90,000 years ago, judging from molecular clock and genetic marker studies. While their descendants certainly became close intimates, Y-chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve are separated by at least 30,000 years, or possibly a thousand generations. This is due to the differences found in male and female reproductive strategies.
The more recent age of the Y-mrca compared to the mt-mrca corresponds to a larger statistical dispersion of the probability distribution for a Paleolithic man to have living descendants compared to that of a Paleolithic woman. While fertile women had more or less equally distributed chances of giving birth to a certain number of fertile descendants, chances for fertile men varied more widely, with some fathering no children and others fathering many, with multiple women.
Y-chromosomal Adam is not the same individual at all points in human history; the Y-mrca of all humans alive today is different from the one for humans alive at some point in the remote past or future: as male lines die out, a more recent individual becomes the new Y-mrca. In times of rapid population growth, patrilineal lines are less likely to die out than during a population bottleneck.
Y-chromosomal Adam is named after the Adam of the Genesis account of creation as a metaphor only. The name may seem to imply that Y-chromosomal Adam was the only living male of his time; he was not. "Y-Adam" is not even a single fixed individual but a title that continually passes on to more recent individuals as time goes on.
- "Modern Men Trace Ancestry to African Migrants", A Gibbons, Volume 292, Number 5519, Issue of 11 May 2001, pp. 1051-1052.
- "African Origin of Modern Humans in East Asia: A Tale of 12,000 Y Chromosomes", Yuehai Ke et al, Science 2001 292: 1151-1153
- Paternal mtDNA transmission
- Y chromosome
- Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups
- Single-origin hypothesis
- Adam's Curse (book by Bryan Sykes)
- Genetic genealogy
- Mitochondrial Eve
- Most recent common ancestor
- Y-chromosomal Aaron
- San people
- Genealogical DNA test
- Genographic project
- Identical ancestors point
- Documentary Redraws Humans' Family Tree (from National Geographic)
- Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromosomal Adam Diagrams
- Y-Chromosome Biallelic Haplogroups