back to article Geneticists resolve human dilemma of Adam's boy-toy status

The largest-ever study of the male Y chromosome has shown that the so-called "Adam" – the most common genetic ancestor to modern humans – is much older than previously thought, which solves a troubling dilemma for geneticists. Geneticists have spent a lot of time examining the genes of humans in the hope for finding what's …

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Re: making it up

"Bit cheeky really, making something up and conning lots of gullible people into believing it"

Yes, that sort of thing should be left to the professionals, aka political parties

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Unhappy

Re: plz tell me where 10k yrs came from in the bible ?

", rather than disproving the whole book as the myths and ramblings of some desert tribesmen and farmers."

You might also include some of them sounding like the ramblings of someone with syphilis eating their brain.

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Joke

Re: plz tell me where 10k yrs came from in the bible ?

"Really Usher was practically making it up"

Not like the rest of the book which is gospel true.

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The Bible has Jesus's exact lineage back to Adam, and we have a reasonably good idea when he was born. Not 1AD. The bible says it was during the reign of King Herod, and King Herod died in 4BC.

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@jonathanb

The Bible has Jesus's exact lineage back to Adam, and we have a reasonably good idea when he was born.

And The Simpsons has been on TV since 1989, which by my reckoning makes Bart Simpson at least 24 years old.

What's your point? Jesus, Adam and Bart SImpson are all fictional characters.

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"The Bible has Jesus's exact lineage back to Adam, and we have a reasonably good idea when he was born. Not 1AD. The bible says it was during the reign of King Herod, and King Herod died in 4BC."

Er, no. The Bible (in Matthew) gives St Joseph's lineage, but one of the pretty important things in the Bible is that St Joseph, whilst being Mary's hubby, had nothing to do with the conception, so not Jesus' lineage at all. Her lineage wasn't important, as she's just a vessel. The Bible can be a bit sexist like that. Just look at Abraham's treatment of women. it looks to me as being just a really bad post-event justification to fit in with earlier prophecies that Jesus would be of Abraham's lineage, missing the point that he's nothing to do with fathering Jesus.

Also there's a problem that Herod was dead before the Census of Quirinius (about 7AD) as described in Luke. No other censuses that even remotely fit the bill are recorded, and you'd assume events like that would be noted by those pesky Romans. Even then it wouldn't apply to St Joseph as he wasn't Roman, and there was never a universal census involving non-Romans. So that gives Herod a few issues making the massacre of innocents decree on account of being dead. Mind you, there's no other record of the massacre either. You'd expect that sort of thing to feature somewhere in Roman history. So we have Luke and Matthew contradicting each other, and neither making sense in the overall history of things. Doesn't bode well for an infallible god or any guessing by counting method.

In short - "We have the fossils. We win"

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Alien

His and her ages.

On a purely pedantic tangent to the excellent comments so far, may I suggest that the ages of proto-adam and proto-eve must be identical . If not, from where did Roger the lodger originate?

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Facepalm

Re: His and her ages.

As any fule kno Roger the lodger is an alien that Stan Smith saved from Area 51.

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Alien

Re: His and her ages.

"As any fule kno Roger the lodger is an alien that Stan Smith saved from Area 51."

What was a big footed tennis player doing in Area 51? Inquiring minds need to know.

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.and man live a lot longer back then ...

Yea didn't some of those Bible dudes live for hundreds of years..........they sure had their five a day.

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Archeologically established point???

"Y chromosomes change relatively little over the millennia, and the team was able to used an archeologically established point – humanity reaching the Americas around 15,000 years ago – by comparing the genetic data from the two populations. This was used to establish a "molecular clock" of genetic change in the Y chromosome."

Given that there are many sites in the americas that make this date somewhat controversial, how can this population be used as the basis for any kind of clock? (And what do molecules have to do with gene sequences?)

Maybe they should have used the aboriginal population of Australia as their stable sample. I mean, there at least you have a relatively unchanged set of gene sequences going back some 50k years.

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Re: Archeologically established point???

It's a reference point, and if we revise that date, it shifts the derived dates in proportion. The error bars are pretty big on this anyway. The old figures, the two different age ranges overlapped. Both figures have been revised. There is a much better match. And it is rather difficult to explain if this generic Adam and Eve are widely separated. He looked so much younger than Mitochondrial Eve that it was hard to see how he could have frozen out the other male lines. Maybe Y-chromosome Adam discovered the G-spot.

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Re: (And what do molecules have to do with gene sequences?)

DNA and RNA-related stuff is referred to as "molecular genetics" (sometimes "molecular biology", although the latter is somewhat wider and includes the science of proteins, too). That's because they study the molecular basis of heredity as opposed to phenotypic traits (which transmission is much harder to predict -or work out backwards, as the case may be). DNA strands _are_ (extremely large) molecules, indeed. That would be something that gene sequences have to do with molecules, don't you think?

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The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

"The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser men so full of doubts."

― Bertrand Russell

It is not necessary that there be one objective truth and nothing else. In fact, it is not likely there even *is* one objective truth for all values of 'truth'. Even if there were, I highly doubt many of us would be equipped to understand it.

The scientific narrative seems more explanatory (to me) for things like engineering or DNA sequencing. That does not preclude the utility of a religious narrative. The religious narrative may be, for some, a better fit for making 'organic sense' of the world. There is nothing wrong with that.

Religious and moral norms provide heuristics for calculating the optimal strategy for our near-immortal genes to continue to propagate. Very few people likely even understand that last sentence and less still have any likelihood of turning it into a reliable calculation. However, most people can likely use the cultural norms they were taught as children to muddle through.

It is possible to hold both scientific and religious narratives in esteem. They are not mutually exclusive. That is why you see them both on display all the time. People on both sides of the fence would be well served by a little intellectual humility and some time spent understanding the other side's point of view.

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Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

"Religious and moral norms provide heuristics for calculating the optimal strategy for our near-immortal genes to continue to propagate"

This is true, but a little bit one sided. As memes, religions also evolve, and usually they end up being bad for their followers. At some moment, religions become entities capable of doing whatever they need to survive and grow, and have no problem throwing away any moral claims. Consider "Thou shalt not kill.", and the way it has been sidestepped by all the Abrahamic religions. That's where Crusades, Jihads and Inquisitions come from.

From a given moment in their development, all religions become big fat parasites that support whatever government has the power, milk/rob people for their money/resources and act like a cork that prevents the societies upon which they feed from improving.

Oh, and who said that you need a religion so you can have morals?

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Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

@btrower

Like many on the deity side you assume, in passing, religion a necessary precondition to morals: "Religious and moral norms...". This is not true. Read the God Delusion chapter on morals. Morals in and of themselves are useful for understanding many things. Also, morals seem to be universal to all humans, and to some extent animals. Religion not so much.

Also, you use religion and the religious narrative in the singular. Do Norse Religion and Buddhism count? Or are they just silly sideshows to "real" religion. Please specify.

Further, funny how deitists seem threatened as soon as more light is shed on prehistory by science.

Your argument is invalid or at best incomplete.

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Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

Even if you put aside the question of truth, the question remains: "What are the implications of what you believe?"

The Crusades and the Inquisition both come from a corruption of values - the church institutions took on the values which were opposite to those of the religion. I suspect this was mostly due to the acquisition of temporal power, whereupon they became like all other greedy, power-seeking, money-grubbing organisations. However, at least the basic values contradict this behaviour. The old testament is full of prophecies of doom which God pronounces on his own people because they have become like everyone else around them.

The Muslims appear to have started out on the warparth and the Jews got lost in legalism, bringing down their own God's curses upon themselves. Buddhists will tell you that pain is all in the mind and Hindu's see little to be gained in interfering with karma - the universe's way of judging wrong-doing which ensures that whatever lot in life you have is deserved.

> Oh, and who said that you need a religion so you can have morals?

No you don't need religion to have morals, but to have morals as an atheist is irrational. In fact, if you believe in the genetic machine, your personhood is purely a product of your environment, like the sand dune shapes in the Sahara or the melting ice (or otherwise) at the poles. Any concern for your children's welfare in the face of AGW is just genetic programming and has no intrinsic value. You have no more freedom of choice than an ice-cream machine and even changing your mind is just a result of your genetic programming. Sure you can look after the poor and the homeless, but what is the reason? Surely that is going against evolution, the survival of the fittest - you are diluting the gene-pool with failed material.

I have to laugh with irony when people trot out the crusades as an argument against religion, conveniently disregarding the millions more killed during the least religious and scientifically advanced 20th & 21st centuries. Conveniently ignoring the fact that under atheism, there is no intrinsic curb on my hatred and greed. I fight for my genes to get ahead - sometimes I cooperate, when no-one is looking, I don't have to. I just throw it into the pot and claim its up to history to judge.

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Facepalm

Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct. (@ P.Lee)

Even if you put aside the question of truth, the question remains: "What are the implications of what you believe?""

I don't want to put aside the question of truth. If you put aside the question of truth, many other important concepts will suffer the consequences. Trusting someone who said that things are so and so 'cause God told me' is dangerous and just plain stupid, in my opinion.

The implications of what religious people believe are that they have to trust some guys that, basically can define as dogma whatever they want without needing to provide proof. After a while, you get people saying that adulterous women must be stoned, God forbids blood transfusions, the Pope is infallible and the Earth is ~6000 years old, just to give a few examples.

but to have morals as an atheist is irrational.

Totally wrong. If humans didn't live in societies and weren't dependent on other humans, you'd be right, but we live and evolve in societies/cultures/civilizations. And one of these without an ethical framework will last, in Historical terms- a very short time, and look to people living under them like a living hell. On the other hand, religions manipulate the morals for their own benefit, which usually ends up harming their followers.

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Devil

Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

"Conveniently ignoring the fact that under atheism, there is no intrinsic curb on my hatred and greed"

In the case of Christianity, it's a bit hard to follow a church where a significant number of it's officers have buggered little boys over many years and had their crimes covered up by their superiors. One wonders where the "intrinsic curb" supposedly lacking in atheists is operating in the minds of those religious persons who are supposed to teach and/or set examples for their followers.

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Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct. (@ P.Lee)

> but to have morals as an atheist is irrational.

Frankly, I find that belief terrifying.

I assume you mean that without religion to hold you back you would feel free to murder, rob and rape all day and every day. Most of us are not like that. Most of us actually like acting selflessly for the general good. We might not always succeed, but neither do the religious succeed all the time.

Religion is in serious danger of losing the moral high ground. I'm not talking about the child abuse stories. Those are a little like shooting fish in a barrel, and the church now admits that it's handling was wrong. However on matters such as family planning, women's rights and gay rights, no major religion is as enlightened as modern secular morality.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

"The scientific narrative seems more explanatory (to me) for things like engineering or DNA sequencing. That does not preclude the utility of a religious narrative. The religious narrative may be, for some, a better fit for making 'organic sense' of the world. There is nothing wrong with that."

"It is possible to hold both scientific and religious narratives in esteem. They are not mutually exclusive."

The late and dearly missed Chris Hitchens would have begged to differ. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Hitchens

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Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

<quote>but to have morals as an atheist is irrational. </quote>

No.

<quote>Conveniently ignoring the fact that under atheism, there is no intrinsic curb on my hatred and greed.</quote>

No.

<quote>Sure you can look after the poor and the homeless, but what is the reason? Surely that is going against evolution, the survival of the fittest - you are diluting the gene-pool with failed material.</quote>

Populations evolve. Not individuals. We're all in concurrent genetic experiments. Fittest is relative. We engineer our environment more than any other organism except microbes. Many people don't look after the poor and the homeless. It may or may not be beneficial to the overall population. Survival rates for populations with those traits over the changing environment will change that.

In short: we do *not* implement evolution according to some Malthusian definition. We implement genetic strategies which may or may not lead to their survival. They vary - that is enough. And with meme theory much the same war of strategies may well be playing out in our minds and now with temes in our machines.

Note: genetic strategies are not absolutes. Environments may vary. No guarantees are made as to whether your genetic transport system implements complex environmental feedback systems or not. Warranty void if dead. The value of your genome may fall as well as rise.

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Re: The most certain are the least likely to be correct.

it is not likely there even *is* one objective truth for all values of 'truth'

So is the statement above true or not? I'm pretty sure that it's an instance of Epimenides' Paradox dressed up with a bit of probability.

If you believe in multiple values of true, then it must be impossible for you to evaluate any proposition.

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Anonymous Coward

@ btrower

You sir speak a lot of sense.

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It is possible to hold both scientific and religious narratives in esteem. They are not mutually exclusive. That is why you see them both on display all the time.

Never mind science and religion coexisting...

The various brands of religious bigots can't get on together.

Sunni vs. Shia

Muslim vs. Jew

Catholic vs. Protestant

People are conditioned to believe that their guy up in the clouds is better than the other guy's multi-armed elephant. That's religion for you.

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Anonymous Coward

What's really weird

is that in all of the examples you gave, it's THE SAME GOD. Most of the holy texts are based around the same starting point, as well.

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Re: What's really weird

My money's on the multi-armed elephant, best celebrity death match ever!

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Elephant every time, especially if it is stood on a Turtle.

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Anonymous Coward

'multi armed elephant'

Given the way Indian businessmen have been reversing the direction of the British Empire recently, Bramah is indeed on the side of Ghanesh.

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Anonymous Coward

There, fixed it for you !

Sunni vs. Shia

Muslim vs. everyone

Catholic vs. Protestant/Jews

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Holmes

No, you didn't fix it for me. You just proved you're another sad, bigoted anonymous asshole.

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Corrections

Drew

(or whoever) there's a word missing in the first paragraph, it's the word "recent" as in "most recent common ancestor" not "most common genetic ancestor".

Herewith from the paper's abstract:

"we estimate the time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) of the Y chromosome to be 120 to 156 thousand years"

Where has the "send corrections" button gone? Am I just being blind?

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Unhappy

My this has bought the $deity bothers out in force.

Let me suggest a position everyone could live with.

1)1 second after you die everyone gets to find out wheather their positions was correct.

2)If someone asks what your position is by all means feel free to explain it to them, but if they don't, don't. They will take their chances with their PoV, as will you when the time comes.

Might I also point out the implication of the "Mitochondrial" Eve is that the phrase "All men are brothers," is a literal statement of fact, not a charming philosophical position.

All wars are civil, and all conflict is internecine.

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Headline

I thought the term was toy-boy, not boy-toy.

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What is one day for God?

Who is to say that God operates within the time time constraints as determined by modern humans? I think that God has a different concept of time that we, as humans; about which, can only generalize with minimal inference.

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Angel

Re: What is one day for God?

'God' said Man, 'God, is it true, a hundred thousand million years for you is like nothing in the way our time is reckoned?'

'True' said God.

'And God' said Man, 'God, is it true, a hundred thousand million dollars, too, is like something handy when the waiter's beckoned?'

'True' said God.

'Then, God, slip me a dollar through. One little dollar can't mean anything to you.'

'True', said God. 'Do you mind waiting for a second?'

'G', Christopher Logue's ABC. I can highly recommend the rest of it, if you can find a copy.

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Mushroom

Re: What is one day for God?

The obvious answer for an infinite being is that time is meaningless.

But then so are a bunch of thin haired apes so why do some of them insist it must care about them so much?

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Creation less than 10,000 ya

That's pretty hard to believe, since we've all been taught true science - that at first there was absolutely nothing, which somehow exploded for no known reason and became everything.

Then chemicals decided to swirl together in a soup and luckily (!) chanced to form 'simple' life forms able to reproduce and get food from the environment!!

These added vast amounts of genetic information (a process never observed in the real world) by means of chance mutations (which we inexplicably desperately avoid for ourselves and our offspring) and resulted in mankind - an animal with a very fertile imagination indeed

:-) :-D

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WTF?

Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya

You joined just to post this?

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Devil

Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya

Of course he did.

Every faithful believer knows there's no mileage in preaching to the choir. You must go out and spread the Good News amongst the sinners! And what better place to shine the Light of the Lord than the benighted cesspit of atheist heathen unbelieving science geeks comprising the commentard community of El Reg?

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Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya

No :-)

I Love a good debate, and it seemed like a bunch of good mates patting themselves on their backs that they are so enlightened. Care to answer the post?

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Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya

"Every faithful believer knows there's no mileage in preaching to the choir."

Reading the posts, I thought that's what was happening here :-D So I thought I'd join in and make it more interesting for you - is that OK? Do you mind having a bit of a debate, or do you only want yes men here?

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Mushroom

Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya (@ Kyle Roberts)

You just lowered the mean IQ of this forum ten points. You are forcing us to take desperate measures:

"BEGONE FROM THIS FORUM, OH YOU FOUL SPIRIT OF A CHRISTIAN TROLL!"

If this isn't enough, we'll send you a Richard Dawkins dedicated photograph. You have been warned!

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Re: Creation less than 10,000 ya (@ Kyle Roberts)

:-D

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Consider this

Over my rather longish life, I have seen a steady decline in those professing to be religious or spiritual, and an opposite increase in the rudeness, crudeness, and coarseness in society. I believe the two are directly related. Perhaps Mankind engaging in hope of a significant reason for existence is a good thing. At the very least, perhaps we should not ridicule it. We already have enough selfish behavior.

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Re: Consider this

Over my rather longish life, I have seen a steady increase in religious and scientific fundamentalism, and an increase in the rudeness, crudeness, and coarseness in society.

It does not have to be black or white. Plenty of scientists are religious. Plenty of the religious do not believe the literal physical truth of every word in the Bible. Most people just want to get along with everyone else.

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Trollface

Re: Consider this

Over my rather longish life, I have seen a steady decline in those professing to be religious or spiritual, and an opposite increase in the rudeness, crudeness, and coarseness in society. I believe the two are directly related.

Reality and what you believe are two different things.

Perhaps the "steady decline in those professing to be religious" might have something to do with child sex abuse, Magdalene Laundries, Westboro Baptists and all that other "selfish behavior" that comes from organised religion.

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Facepalm

Re: Consider this

And in my longish life, I have noticed an increase in rudeness, crudeness and coraseness whilst seeing a steady decline in the number of hours that politicians work!

I therefore declare that in order to improve mankind for the better, all politicians must be forced to work 80hr weeks, and not be allowed outside of parliament unless they are dead (either actually or politically I'm not too concerned which...).

(Two little things called Causation and Correlation, you know?)

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Please science!

Please refrain from using religious analogies.

Adam and Eve?

Really?

Educated people know you are just being cute but the baked-on, hard-core fundies see it as a confirmation of their ye olde book of myths [TM].

Next thing you know some whack-adoo-fundy is telling the press, "see, even scientists believe in Adam and Eve'...

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Our Islamic cousins actually have a pretty laid-back view of creation timescales.

They interpret the OT as saying God created the universe in 7 "periods" and they are open to a "period" being millions of years.: No conflict with reality there ....

Where they fall down is evolution, as follows:

So, mice evolved from small dinosaurs? - OK!

And squirrels evolved from mice? - OK!

And lemurs evolved from squirrels? - OK!

And monkeys evolved from lemurs? - OK!

And chimpanzees evolved from monkeys?- OK!

And humans evolved from chimps? - INFIDEL!

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