“Your Mama…” – Breaking Non-News Events for Big Babies

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA...

Animation of the structure of a section of DNA. The bases lie horizontally between the two spiraling strands. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Genetic ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’ Uncovered – that was the headline.

This is an attention-grabbing lead, I guess…if you’ve been anxiously awaiting such clarification, or obfuscation, however this reads out for you.

The opening paragraph:

“Almost every man alive can trace his origins to one man who lived about 135,000 years ago, new research suggests. And that ancient man likely shared the planet with the mother of all women.”

Yes…”that ancient man likely shared the planet with the mother of all women.”  Well, there goes any idea of inter-planetary sex, and with it, a load of science fiction writing, as well as a boat load of basement-based believers that aliens had something to do with human beings populating the earth without any cosmic nudge.

Any Way…

The journal Science presented this in an article “The 10 Biggest Myths of the First Humans” in today’s issue (Aug 1).  And, it’s about time.

I was getting so frustrated with earlier research suggesting that men’s most common ancestor lived just 50,000 to 60,000 years ago.

I was feeling like a bit marginalized, feeling like a bit player who arrived late on the world stage, without a clue what my lines or cues were or are.

But, all is well, after meandering through this article by Tia Ghose, staff writer for LiveScience.com.

Research Team

Research Team (Photo credit: shareski)

These researchers, taking scientific stuff like mutation rates and archaeological events, such as migrating people and populations into account, have concluded all males in their global sample (69 men from seven racially and geographically separated ethnic groups) share a single male ancestor in Africa from roughly 125,000 to 156,000 years ago.

Now, that 33,000 year window may seem a lot to commoners like myself and others like me, but once the numbers get this long, it’s pretty much passed over with a shrug, if that.

These researchers also took women into account, which seems appropriate, since they’re discussing the origins of Man.  Women are easier, when it comes to this kind of research, due to the way their genetic lines die out when not directly passed on.  The research presented revealed – Revealed… – that from a sample group of 24 women, they all trace back to one mitochondrial Eve, who lived in Africa 99,000 to 148,000 years ago – “…almost the same time period during which the Y-chromosome Adam lived,” the article says.  See what I mean about 30,000 years here… 40,000 years there…it all adds, I guess, but adds up to what?

This is where religions come in handy…a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end…which, in the end, is all most readers are expecting.  Give me a bored god figure, a mud man, a companion conjured from bone fragment, and let the plot get fuzzy, since incest questions always make me queasy, and are best skirted.  And why not throw a talking snake, a magic tree, some tragic apples, and a few other fantastic plot devices in as well.  This sure simplifies things, if one considers that sort of story simple.

The author addresses the time issue as “…this small overlap in time…” before going on to say our ancient Adams and Eves “…probably didn’t even live near each other, let alone mate.”  Melissa Wilson Sayres, a geneticist at the University of California, Berkely, added – “Those two people didn’t know each other.”

playing in the captive whirlwind.jpg

playing in the captive whirlwind.jpg (Photo credit: opacity)

This is beginning to sound like human behavior hasn’t changed much in 200,000 years…people pro-creating on the fly, not living near each other, or knowing each other.  At least some of us wake up the next morning knowing we’ve mated, and maybe deposited some genes into that most crowded of pools.

But, that’s where things often start to get weird.

“It’s very exciting,” Wilson Sayres told LiveScience.com.  “As we get more populations across the world, we can start to understand exactly where we came from physically.”

Well, I know where I’m coming from physically…and it has to do with waking up and seeing this bit of jarring news.  So, I go for more coffee, a short pit-stop, tell my wife, “Yes…I’ll help with the laundry, as soon as I’m done with this monumentally important post,” and I come back to this:

“The Science Behind Delivering a 13.5 Pound Baby ” – a feed from The Week.

Whoaaaa ! ! !  And here I thought my mother was the champeen Big Baby deliverer.  Her first child – me – weighed in at a hefty 10 pounds 12 ounces.  And, that didn’t dissuade her from any follow-up attempts at Eve-ing her way around in our family tree.  My sister and brother, 10 pounds 8 ounces, and 10 pounds 2 respectively, followed not long afterward.  (If I’m not precise on the sibling weights, I’m close…the point being, three over 10 pounds.  I have no idea how women do it.  I certainly would have been dissuaded).

This 13.5 pound baby was delivered in Leipzig, and not by C-section.  Yes, folks…not by C-section.  Now, imagine our Mitochondrial Eve hurling something like that into the world.

I’m imagining a pregnant woman, loaded down with 50 or 60 pounds of camping gear, rotting food, and of course, the maps, trudging across a dry, frozen mountain pass somewhere in Eurasia.  She’s on her way to colonize and populate the world…she’s also following a group of men – who are carrying nothing but a few wood and stone weapons, which is important, you know.  The stomach cramps, nausea, and all the other joys of impending motherhood give way to the miracle of birth on some rocky, desolate, trail.  The group gets her stabilized as well as they know how, bundle up the squalling newborn, help her get her pack back on, and off they go.  Remember, I’m imagining this.

Happy Women's Day: in Tribute to Mitochondrial Eve

Happy Women’s Day: in Tribute to Mitochondrial Eve (Photo credit: garlandcannon)

Yes, we all owe a lot to that, and every other Mitochondrial Eve we can imagine, past and present.

My Origin – A Mysterious Howl and Moonbeams

English: Coyote attempts to get persimmons fro...

English: Coyote attempts to get persimmons from Opossum in a traditional native American Caddo story. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I received an e-mail from an online ancestry search site this morning.  It seems that I have little measurable genetic connection to any human gene series yet discovered.  Does this bit of information surprise me?  Not really.  Is it going to surprise my mother?  I think so…she has vivid, concrete memories of birthing me.  Is this going to make my life a bit more complicated?  Yes, definitely, and it’s already begun.

I was sitting on a porch in Washington state with a friend of mine last time I was in the United States, and she told me about the ancestry search she had begun using the same online site.  She is adopted and wanted to find out about her ethnic background.

The moon was full, we had finished off two bottles of Pinot Noir and were opening a third one.  A coyote was howling in the distance.  Nothing of this story so far is unusual, but somehow the combination gave me the urge to follow my friend’s lead and investigate my ancestry through the site, a service operated by the Mormon Church…and if you can’t trust the Mormons with genealogical research, who can you trust?

 

My first DNA submission was a blood sample.  I received a notice that testing had been inconclusive, and would I send in another sample.  I did.  The second was not only inconclusive, but confusing.  I was asked to send in more samples – hair, blood, and skin.  I did.  The e-mail I received today listed only one possible earthly connection, canis latrans, the common coyote.  But, after performing a process referred to as a “split” only 4,739 genetic markers could be found that would even connect me to a coyote.

 

The most famous of the Moon rocks recovered, t...

The most famous of the Moon rocks recovered, the Genesis Rock, returned from Apollo 15. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is where it gets really weird.

The e-mail also informed me that my DNA had been sent to a lab which tested fossil DNA sample, hoping for some reasonable place to start.  The lab workers had been frustrated, and one of them…must have been a real smart-ass type, tested my samples against the elemental make-up of a moon rock brought back from the second Apollo mission.  They informed me my connection to material from the moon rock sample was equal to that of canis latrans.

I have no idea what my mother is going to say when she hears this.

I do know what the governments of Washington state and the United States of America are going to say, because they’ve said it.

I received another e-mail from the state of Washington, not an hour later.  The message was a confusing bit of governmental nonsense about re-examing my birth certificate, driver’s license, and teaching certifications.  This didn’t really bother me too much.  My driver’s license has been either revoked or suspended for about as many years as it’s been active.  But, since I’m planning a trip to the states soon, I called my lawyer in San Jose to make sure I could get back in the country with only one form of photo ID, which they’re very uptight about here.  He was near apoplectic.

“Who you are…I am meaning, what you are?” he nearly screamed into the phone.  He’s only a generation down out of the hills, and has a grandmother who is a practicing curandera…a witch to most people.  He told me he had received a visit from an American Embassy official inquiring as to my whereabouts, since I’ve moved several times since registering with them.  “We no service dogs, or coyotes, or what you ever are,” he said, calming down a bit.  I heard a voice in the background.

“And we no take rocks, either, you demonio desde…”  He never swears…even the words ” demon from hell.”

I also have a grandmother who was a bit strange when it came to natural healing, one who claimed messages sent to her from “other” sources.  She was one of those “there’s one born every minute” people who bought a deed to a piece of property on the moon back in the 1970s…those fakey things that some enterprising American had made up during the excitement of the lunar landings.  I mean, seriously…is there a country where there are more hucksters, selling more useless junk, to a more gullible populace, than in the U.S.?  I own a piece of the moon.  And, now – at least according to the most reliable of ancestory specialists – I am descended from a piece of the moon.  I have no idea how this is all going to turn out…who would?

 

Coyote pup

Coyote pup (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Can I really be some sort of coyote and moon rock mix?  I found an odd photograph during a Google Image search, labeled simply “coyote pup” …but look at it.  It looks lunar to me.  Maybe I’m just being paranoid…but, paranoia is simply realizing how weird things CAN get, according to some people.  Is this my first baby picture?

I’ll have to get back to you all on this one…after I field a few frantic, dramatic, and disturbing e-mails and/or phone calls from my mother, no doubt.  I don’t fear governments, but mothers are a different story.

Later…