I heard about the Genographic Project while watching a documentary on some 4,000 year old European mummies found in Eastern China. The Genographic Project is tracing the lineage and migration of humanity using mitochondrial DNA. To a geek like me this is some very cool stuff. They have a cool website that is well worth checking out (link).
The Genographic Project recently had a press release that traces back our genetic adam and eve to about 60 to 70 thousand years ago in East Africa. What’s interesting about that is they have also determined that the first modern humans date to about 200,000 years ago. Apparently from 200,000 years ago to about 70,000 years ago – humans migrated and populated most of Africa and then seemingly due to climate change (possibly linked to a massive volcanic eruption in Sumatra 73,000 years ago that was 3,000 (!!!) times stronger then the Mt. St. Helens eruption in 1980) the population collapsed to what they estimate of only 2,000 people in East Africa. And from that small population and from one man and one woman within it – every modern human today can be traced too! Note – when they say genetic adam and eve that ‘s the woman and man whose dna we can trace ourselves too – it means any prior genetic diversity doesn’t exist in the gene pool of modern humanity.
And from that time – the project traces via genetic variation the migration of humanity across the globe and how quickly it expanded, overlapped and crossed paths. Great stuff.
Here’s a picture of the map of human migration (an interactive one exists on the site):