"... a witness unto all nations ..."
|The World Through Scriptures|
An excellent introduction to the central question of biological
origins is the book Of Pandas and People, by Percival Davis
and Dean H. Kenyon, Haughton Publishing Co., Dallas, TX 1989.
An easy to understand book presenting evidence for creation and
refutation of the many of the arguments of the myth of evolution
is Creation: Facts of Life by Gary Parker, Master Books,
PO Box 26060 Colorado Springs, CO 80936, 1994.
In The Mystery of Life's Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, Charles Thaxton, Walter Bradley and Roger Olsen (Philosophical Library, NY 1984) calculate the energy and entropy levels involved in assembling the complex molecules that comprise the genetic code. From their work it is clear that the complex genetic program each of us inherited was created by a Superior Intelligence at the beginning-it could not possibly have "evolved." The Second Law of Thermodynamics demands that orderly, complex systems break down, fall apart, rot, rust and decay with the passage of time. Outside energy and outside Intelligence were required to bring the genetic code into existence.
The God of the Bible brings:
matter out of nothing,
order out of chaos,
light out of darkness,
and life out of death.
By Jennifer Viegas Special to ABCNEWS.com
April 21 - It may be the world's largest known family tree.
Researchers from Oxford University in Oxford, England, have identified seven ancestral matriarchal groups from which all Europeans appear to be descended. These maternal clans form the root of a family tree that has sprouted millions of individuals.
Every European, according to the study, can trace his or her evolutionary history back to the seven ancestral mother groups, also referred to as the Seven Daughters of Eve.
The researchers, who both discovered and formulated the genetic groupings, say these women would have lived between 8,000 to 45,000 years ago.
Hamsters Inspired Theory
Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University, first suspected Europeans could have common lineages when he was a young boy. His inspiration came from a news story he read that stated all hamsters in the world came from one pregnant female found in the Syrian desert in 1930.
Time passed, but he remembered the hamsters. In recent years, he tested out the hamster idea by identifying and ordering the individual components of DNA taken from the droppings of several of these rodents.
He discovered that one specific kind of genetic material, mitochondrial DNA, appeared to be identical among all of the hamsters. This kind of DNA can only be passed down from a mother to her children.
Men have mtDNA in their sperm, but a chemical marks it for destruction during the fertilization process. Therefore, the hamster study findings prompted Sykes to add matriarchal clans to his developing theory about common lineages.
A Cheeky Business
Then, Sykes applied similar research methods to a study on humans. He and his colleagues took cell samples from the cheeks of 6,000 Europeans and analyzed their mitrochondrial DNA.
Unlike hamsters, which share one type of mtDNA, the human test subjects' DNA clearly fit into seven distinct groups: the seven daughters on the European family tree. The "daughters" notion is more figurative than literal, as it broadly refers to seven matriarchal genetic groups, rather than to seven individual women.
Leonardo Salviati, a post doctoral researcher at Columbia University who specializes in mitochondrial DNA studies, says Sykes' theory "is plausible."
"Mitochondrial DNA allows us to trace human evolution," says Salviati. "DNA mutates at a very slow rate, so if you can accumulate mutations and categorize them in specific groups, you can draw direct ancestral lineages."
Mutations in this kind of DNA occur in humans about every 10,000 years. Sykes, therefore, is able to guess when each of the seven female genetic lines first appeared in Europe.
The earliest suspected arrival date, 45,000 years ago, corresponds with the appearance of modern human remains in fossil records. But this date is thousands of years ahead of when anthropologists previously thought migrants arrived in Europe.
Links to African Eve
Further, all seven of the genetic groups appear to be descended from the "Lara" clan, one of three clans that still exist today in Africa. This supports the African Eve theory, proposed in the late '80s by biochemist Allan Wilson, Mark Stoneking and others, which states that all humans share a common African ancestor. Wilson and his colleagues used the same genetic material, mtDNA, for their study.
Terry Melton, president of Mitotyping Technologies, a firm specializing in mtDNA forensic studies, says, "[Sykes] presents a great idea, but the system is not perfect. A consensus may be derived by formulating haplogroups [gene groups], but it would be impossible to do this with 100 percent accuracy."
Melton explains that some parts of the mtDNA mutate faster than others, so additional variation could appear within the seven daughter groups.
What About Americans?
Americans of European heritage may fit into one of the seven categories. But different genetic groups based upon mtDNA variations likely exist for those without European ancestors.
Native Americans, for example, appear to have descended from Asians who migrated to the Americas sometime between 30,000 and 3000 BC. Melton says they seem to have limited mtDNA variations, meaning that they probably descended from just a few Asian lineages.
In future, Sykes hopes to map out genetic groups for other continents, to perhaps find out more about the mothers to us all.
The Seven Daughters of Eve
Professor Sykes and his team have created profiles for each of the seven matriarchal groups. They are:
Helena - This clan lived in the ice-capped Pyrenees. As the climate warmed, Helena's descendants trekked northward to what is now England, some 12,000 years ago. Members of this group are now present in all European countries.
Jasmine - Her people had a relatively happy life in Syria, where they farmed wheat and raised domestic animals. Jasmine's descendants traveled throughout Europe, spreading their agricultural innovations with them.
Katrine - Members of this group lived in Venice 10,000 years ago. Today most of Katrine's clan lives in the Alps.
Tara - Sykes' maternal ancestry goes back to this group, which settled in Tuscany 17,000 years ago. Descendants ventured across northern Europe and eventually crossed the English Channel.
Ursula - Users of stone tools, Ursula's clan members drifted across all of Europe.
Valda - Originally from Spain, Valda and her immediate descendants lived 17,000 years ago. Later relatives moved into northern Finland and Norway.
Xenia - Not much is known about Xenia, but it is believed that her people lived in the Caucasus Mountains 25,000 years ago. Just before the Ice Age, this clan spread across Europe, and even reached the Americas.
Oxford Ancestors, a venture associated with Oxford University, will trace individual matrilinial DNA, for a fee of $180 per test (see link).
With a new technique based on the male, or Y, chromosome, biologists have traced the diaspora of Jewish populations from the dispersals that began in 586 BC to the modern communities of Europe and the Middle East.
The analysis provides genetic witness that these communities have, to a remarkable extent, retained their biological identity separate from their host populations, evidence of relatively little intermarriage or conversion into Judaism through the centuries.
Another finding, paradoxical but unsurprising, is that by the yardstick of the Y chromosome, the world's Jewish communities closely resemble not only one another but also Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese, suggesting that all are descended from a common ancestral population that inhabited the Middle East about 4,000 years ago.
Lawrence H. Schiffman, chairman of the department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, said the study fit with historical evidence that Jews originated in the Near East and with biblical evidence suggesting that there were a variety of families and types in the original population. He said the finding would cause ``a lot of discussion of the relationship of scientific evidence to the manner in which we evaluate long-held academic and personal religious positions,'' like the question of who is a Jew.
The study, reported in today's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, was conducted by Dr. Michael Hammer of the University of Arizona with colleagues in the United States, Italy, Israel, England and South Africa. The results accord with Jewish history and tradition and contradict theories such as those holding that Jewish communities consist mostly of converts from other faiths or that they are descended from the Khazars, a medieval Turkish tribe that adopted Judaism.
The analysis by Hammer and his colleagues is based on the Y chromosome, which is passed unchanged from father to son. Early in human evolution, all but one of the Y chromosomes were lost as their owners had no children or only daughters, so that all Y chromosomes today are descended from that of a single genetic Adam who is estimated to have lived about 140,000 years ago.
In principle, all men should therefore carry the identical sequence of DNA letters on their Y chromosomes, but in fact occasional misspellings have occurred, and because each misspelling is then repeated in subsequent generations, the branching lineages of errors form a family tree rooted in the original Adam.
These variant spellings are in DNA that is not involved in the genes and therefore has no effect on the body. But the type and abundance of the lineages in each population serve as genetic signature by which to compare different populations.
Based on these variations, Hammer identified 19 variations in the Y chromosome family tree. The ancestral Middle East population from which both Arabs and Jews are descended was a mixture of men from eight of these lineages.
Among major contributors to the ancestral Arab-Jewish population were men who carried what Hammer calls the ``Med'' lineage. This Y chromosome is found throughout the Mediterranean and in Europe and may have been spread by the Neolithic inventors of agriculture or perhaps by the voyages of sea-going people such as the Phoenicians.
Another lineage common in the ancestral Arab-Jewish gene pool is found among today's Ethiopians and may have reached the Middle East by men who traveled down the Nile. But present-day Ethiopian Jews lack some of the other lineages found in Jewish communities, and overall are more like non-Jewish Ethiopians than other Jewish populations, at least in terms of their Y chromosome lineage pattern.
The ancestral pattern of lineages is recognizable in today's Arab and Jewish populations, but is distinct from that of European populations and both groups differ widely from sub-Saharan Africans.
Each Arab and Jewish community has its own flavor of the ancestral pattern, reflecting their different genetic histories. Roman Jews have a pattern quite similar to that of Ashkenazis, the Jewish community of Eastern Europe. Hammer said the finding accorded with the hypothesis that Roman Jews were the ancestors of the Ashkenazis.
Despite the Ashkenazi Jews' long residence in Europe, their Y signature has remained distinct from that of non-Jewish Europeans.
On the assumption that there have been 80 generations since the founding of the Ashkenazi population, Hammer and his colleagues calculate that the rate of genetic admixture with Europeans has been less than a half-percent per generation.
Jewish law tracing back almost 2,000 years states that Jewish
affiliation is determined by maternal ancestry, so the Y chromosome
study addresses the question of how much non-Jewish men may have
contributed to Jewish genetic diversity. Hammer was surprised
to find how little that contribution was. ``It could be that wherever
Jews were, they were very much isolated,'' he said.
(1) Special thanks to Kristen Horner for these helpful remarks and for her corrections to my earlier version of this paragraph which included a faulty quote from Hugh Ross. November 16, 1998.