Mitochondrial Eve

A large sample of mitochondrial DNA was taken from the current global population. There are only seven different mtDNA lines left in Europe and 36 globally. It is interesting to note that the genes of Cro-Magnons are not entirely accounted for in modern Europeans. This is an indication of population bottlenecking (i.e.: disease or climate change resulting in high mortality rates) and indicates that if there was interbreeding, the Neanderthal genes could easily have been lost. As an example, if a woman dies or has no daughters then her mtDNA is not passed on and is lost forever. Also, should a female Cro-Magnon mate with a male Neanderthal the offspring would not carry any of the Neanderthal mtDNA as it is maternal.

The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes is a book that outlines the process in which the seven remaining mtDNA sequences were discovered and traced.

It is important to note that because there are only seven lines left in Europe, this greatly reduces our chances of finding Neanderthal remains with the same mtDNA sequence as one of our own. The mtDNA lineages would have been much more diverse earlier in our evolutionary tree.





Figure 15: The seven remaining mtDNA lines.