Recent studies on dating

This led to repeated misrepresentations or misconceptions in journalistic accounts on the topic.Popular science presentations of the topic usually point out such possible misconceptions by emphasizing the fact that the position of mt-MRCA is neither fixed in time (as the position of mt-MRCA moves forward in time as mt DNA lineages become extinct), nor does it refer to a "first woman", nor the only living female of her time, nor the first member of a "new species".Whenever one of the two most ancient branch lines dies out, the MRCA will move to a more recent female ancestor, always the most recent mother to have more than one daughter with living maternal line descendants alive today.The number of mutations that can be found distinguishing modern people is determined by two criteria: firstly and most obviously, the time back to her, but secondly and less obviously by the varying rates at which new branches have come into existence and old branches have become extinct.Using molecular clock methods in the late 1970s, Allan Wilson, Mark Stoneking, Rebecca L. Brown found that mutation in human mt DNA was unexpectedly fast.It exhibited 0.02 substitution per base (1%) in a million years, which is 5–10 times faster than in nuclear DNA.Scientists sort mitochondrial DNA results into more or less related groups, with more or less recent common ancestors.

In principle, earlier Eves can also be defined going beyond the species, for example one who is ancestral to both modern humanity and Neanderthals, or, further back, an "Eve" ancestral to all members of genus Homo and chimpanzees in genus Pan.In human genetics, the Mitochondrial Eve (also mt-Eve, mt-MRCA) is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all currently living humans, i.e., the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers, and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman.In terms of mitochondrial haplogroups, the mt-MRCA is situated at the divergence of macro-haplogroup L into L0 and L1–6.According to current nomenclature, Mitochondrial Eve's haplogroup was within mitochondrial haplogroup L because this macro-haplogroup contains all surviving human mitochondrial lineages today, and she must predate the emergence of L0.

The variation of mitochondrial DNA between different people can be used to estimate the time back to a common ancestor, such as Mitochondrial Eve.

Her position is purely the result of genealogical history of human populations later, and as matrilineal lineages die out, the position of mt-MRCA keeps moving forward to younger individuals over time.

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