My Ancestral Eve

I have one heck of a lot of Neanderthal genetic materials floating around in the cells of my body.

I learned this in the results from my spit test with 23 and Me. This make me happy. I knew Neaderthals were not a complete evolutionary dead end. We are all related. Even the ugly Ice Age adaptations.

I also found out I have a rare maternal haploid group. And while I had to throw out some family stories, my belief that race is a bogus concept was confirmed.

Eve, Long, Long Ago

Every living person traces back to a single woman in Africa about 200,00 years ago. Then once people started dispersing around the globe perhaps 70,000 years ago. There are between 13 and 30 women who were the “clan mothers” or the more modern Eves, or daughters of Eve, whose distinct mitochondria mutations live on, with every person tracing back to one of these Eves. Every living person can trace the mDNA within their cells to one of these handful of women.

Mitochondria is passed, in tact, from mother to offspring. Mitochondria, or mDNA, is the energetic complex that powers our cells. The mDNA does not recombine with genetic material from outside the mitochondria, like other genetic material; mitochondrial DNA is inherited as a single unit, a haplotype. Due to this, the relationships between mitochondrial DNA from different individuals can be mapped out as a an evolutionary tree.

Out of Africa

There were multiple migrations out of Africa. The first modern human migration probably occurred about 70,000 years ago via the westernmost portions of Asia or the Arabian penninsula.

The standard dispersal pattern that I was taught in graduata school back in the dark ages corresponds to the blue pattern in the map below. The intermediate red arrow show the intermediate multi-wave dispersal that everyone, now knows, happened. The new take on how humans dispersed into Eurasia from Africa now allows for back migration from Asia, to Africa. That is the green line. My history includes the green line.

 Creative Commons CC-BY 3.0 License. Saioa López, Lucy van Dorp and Garrett Hellenthal – López, S., van Dorp, L., & Hellenthal, G. (2015). Human Dispersal Out of Africa: A Lasting Debate. Evolutionary Bioinformatics Online, 11(Suppl 2), 57–68.


Truth is not static. Our understanding evolves.

Women can lie about paternity.

Population groups traveled from Asia back across the northern portion of western Asia then dispersed through North Africa’s Mediterranean coast, as well as traveled through Europe and back into Africa through the Iberian Penninsula back into North Africa. There was a lot of gene passage back and forth across the Straits of Gibralter. Yes, people are like that. We mingle.

When Testing, Expect Surprises

I would not have gotten into the new and improved human migration theory except that my matrilineal history as told by my mitochondria is not what I expected.

My mitochondria is not Amish!

I thought I would have X mitochondria typical of some of the Amish people who seem to age well that live in the area where my mother’s family is from, Northeastern Indiana. My great grandmother, Amanda Brubaker Palmer, knew she was Amish, but her family was not “observant” as the image I have of her as a small child shows her wearing a plaid dress with a bow at the neck (decidedly not Amish dress.)

Our cultural stories are for making sense out of things, not for telling the truth.

My genetic heritages is something along the lines of:

French & German/
Swiss 42.5%
British & Irish 37.6%Italian 2.2 %

Both African and North American Indian genetic material are less than 1% of my genetic material.

Over 200 Generations of Unknown Women

Culturally, I can trace my matriline back to Anna Salome Seitz born in 1788 in Pennsylvania. I’m working on finding out who her father was, so maybe I can figure out who her father married and thus who her mother was. That would be fun for me. I would like to find out where her family was when they left Europe, or where-ever. I consider myself lucky that I can trace my matriline back 5 generations. Women’s cultural information is quickly lost, but our genetic information is some of the best traced. Ironic, no?

The gap in ancestry information is between Anna and my ancient foremother from the area of Ethiopia in Africa somewhere around 6000 years ago, 4000 years BCE (before common era) who both carried the M1 sub-clade which I also carry.

Further reading in the scientific literature extends the 6000 year range back anywhere from a few thousand years earlier to as late as around 1500 years ago for the emergence of this new mDNA clade.

So how did that bit of mitochondria from a woman who was probably Ethiopian around the time Abraham or Moses and other men were figuring out how to segment the world into warring religious factions travel to Pennsylvania in the late 1700s?

It is apparently extremely rare for this haploid to show in European-derived groups.

Speculation While Falling Down Rabbit Holes

I’ve been totally engrossed for the last many days, about a week, in trying to figure out how information I received from 23 and Me can be reconciled with my family history.

High level reconciliation will happen. Detailed nitty, gritty reconciliation will not happen.

I, being someone who loves women’s narrative, will fill up my back story story incorporating the genetic results into a personal speculative fiction. I, however, do know no accurate timeline exists for tracing the exact travels of a bit of genetic material across the ages.

What I’ve Learned

I am not one of the Seven Daughters of Eve, my mDNA orginator, My Clan Mother, as I have already begun to think of her, was not European. This does not mean I do not have lots and lots of European women in my genetic tree. I do.

To reconcile these two things, European ancestry and African mDNA, you have to understand that I do not give any credence to the concept of race.

What I Do Know / What I Can Say

  • Genetic race does not exist
  • Cultural race does exist, and it a hot mess of otherness and hatred
  • I have no idea what shade of skin my Clan Mother was, but she undoubtedly was not white
  • Women have traveled for millennia
  • At some point the carriers of my mDNA took on an appearance of lighter skin
  • My DNA that originates from sequences of Neanderthal genetic material is not related to my mDNA
  • my Clan Mother had a daughter who probably migrated up through Iberia as a Jewish woman, or as a a woman enslaved by Greek traders, or as the wife of an Arabian trader, or as a trader of the Maghreb herself

These two books are both by the researcher who started the genetic Adam and Eve discussion in the early 2000s. They are classics. They are about white people.

If you want to find our more info about the first Eve, before the first out-of-Africa migration, and the oldest mDNA lineages from hundreds of thousands of years ago, there is a news article about it and a scientific paper about it.

I recommend using caution when undertaking and interpreting genetic tests. You will find out surprising information. I found out I am not carrying Amish mDNA. You might find out things that unsettle your understanding of who you are or find out distressing health-related information.

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  1. Up to now, I have resisited taking a DNA test due to privacy concerns. And yet: several years ago, through, a first cousin once removed from my mothers side (a side I lost all contact with about 50 years ago for reasons arising out of me intermarrying out of my religion) found me, and I got to meet her father, my 89 year old first cousin. That cousin, who is a retired socialogy professor, encouraged me to take a DNA test, saying “you might be surprised at what you find”. I haven’t taken him up on it. Perhaps I should.
    Alana recently posted…Tree #ThursdayTreeLove #AtoZChallengeMy Profile

  2. Up to now, I haven’t taken a DNA test because of privacy concerns. A very good friend of mine did, and found her ancestry was totally different than what she would have expected. Several years ago, a first cousin once removed from my mother’s side, which I had lost contact with some 45 years ago due to me intermarrying outside my religion, found me on I was able, last spring, to visit with her 89 year old father, my first cousin, a retired sociology professor. He encouraged me to take a DNA test, saying “you might be surprised at what you find”. He didn’t elaborate further. I haven’t taken him up on it – I may be rethinking that.

  3. I began this morning @ 5:34AM, Googling “Oceans & Amniotic Fluid”, finding Nancy Hills Women’s Legacy Project and stopped after reading your views @ My Ancestral Eve, 70,000 years past, mitochondria & haploid’s. Anthropologically speaking, just last month I was attempting to think like a virus to understand Covid and reached back about 1.5b years past. About a year ago I contemplated how small particles being blasted out of our sun hit rock & stone on our planet and along with other erosive energies create life, life from rock!? I then jumped up a bit to think like a hunter gatherer. I understood everything you inferred – – – – does that qualify me as a fellow anthropological fellow? I’m in complete & thorough awe how in heck humanity, if you will, you women AND us men EXPECT to survive!

    1. I continually wonder the same. But we do, or least we have, survive. We are very adaptable. I’m curious, did you find what you were looking for when you were searching about oceans and amniotic fluid.

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