Eve Hypothesis

It was found that the mitochondrial DNA, a small organism of the cell, was different from the DNA in the cell nucleus. While DNA in the nucleus get into new combinations throughout generations, DNA of mitochondria is transmitted directly without entering combinations. In other words, mitochondrial DNA of a mother does not mix with DNA of a father like nucleus DNA; it is transferred directly to her children. Her daughters transfer the DNA of mitochondria to their daughters and their daughters to their daughters and so on. Then, why should we not reach Hz. Hawwa (Eve) by looking at mitochondrial DNA of girls living today?

In OCTOBER 1987, Rebecca Cann, in American Anthropology Institute in Chicago, summarized her months of research as Eve Hypothesis. Based on a recently discovered biological fact, Rebecca Cann found that mitochondrial DNA, a small organism of the cell, differed from DNA in the cell nucleus. While DNA in the nucleus get into new combinations throughout generations, DNA of mitochondria is transmitted directly without entering combinations. In other words, mitochondrial DNA of a mother does not mix with DNA of a father like nucleus DNA; it is transferred directly to her children. Her daughters transfer the DNA of mitochondria to their daughters and their daughters to their daughters and so on.

Then, why should we not reach Hz. Hawwa (Eve) by looking at mitochondrial DNA of girls living today? Rebecca Cann took the placentas that were disposed after birth of 147 pregnant women. She compared the mitochondrial DNA she obtained from the placenta tissues of Asian, Middle Eastern, African and European women with one another. Meanwhile, a group of geneticists from University of Emory started to examine the mitochondrial DNA of blood cells taken from 700 people from four different continents.

Rebecca Cann, who discovered the Eve Hypothesis

After that, the results of these two researches were combined. It was seen that there was almost no difference in the mitochondrial DNA of different races of people living in different continents and the DNAs all went back to a single woman. According to Allan Wilsan, who has been following the research throughout, "We all should have a common mother."

The Famous Paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould states the following about Eve Hypothesis:

‘’ I would stake my life that this is a great discovery because it makes us all biological siblings so closely as we have not noticed before."

The biologists from the University of California expresses it as follows: "Just like the children of the same family."

An evolutionary paleontologist said,

’This new information from DNA is so sensitive and so real that all of what we have told has turned into an old wives’ tale."1.

Criticism of Eve Hypothesis

Some information causing this hypothesis to be put forward and to be misinterpreted can be summarized as follows:

In addition to the genetic material in the nucleus, human cells carry genetic information in their mitochondria (structures functioning as energy power plants in the cell). Mitochondria can reproduce in the same cell in a different way according to the need of the cell, without any reproduction in the cells. A good example of it is that the average number of mitochondria in the muscle cells of people doing sports is higher than those who do not. Some enzymes and proteins in the cell are synthesized from the genetic information in mitochondria. During the development of the fertilized egg (zygote) in the womb, the genetic information of the mitochondrion is not obtained from the father (sperm) but from the mother (ovum) because the ovum is much larger than the sperm, and during fertilization, only the head part of the sperm containing the nucleus enters the ovum; the tail part containing mitochondria remains outside. Therefore, mitochondrial genetic information in humans originates from the mother. Mitochondrial DNA was isolated from cell samples of different races living in different parts of the world and mutations in the mitochondrial genes (hereditary changes in the nucleotide sequence forming the DNA) were analyzed. The most mutations (genetic variation) have been detected in the people of African origin.

The older the time of the creation of a living being, the more genetic changes will be seen in that living being because mutations in DNA occur at relatively constant speeds. People whose DNA sequences have been altered in one or two nucleotides have closer kinship with one another than humans with more and diverse variations, and they appeared on Earth in a more recent time period. From this point of view, molecular biologists can predict the time of the emergence of a particular gene and a living being by looking at the number and variety of mutations that occur in that gene. Based on this idea, the African-origin mitochondrial genes with the highest mutation or genetic variability led to the suggestion of the Eve Hypothesis (human species originating from a single common mother in Africa).

After the suggestion of this hypothesis, some scientists came up with the idea that if there was an ape-like female ancestor (Eve) of African origin representing the mother side of human beings, there should be a ape-like male ancestor (Adam). To find support for this idea, a group of scientists (Yale University-USA) led by R. L. Dorit isolated genomic DNA from cells with nucleus of 38 people of all races from different parts of the world. The Y chromosome, which carries the genes that play a role in the determination of masculinity among 46 chromosomes in which the genetic program consisting of approximately 4-5 billion genetic letters is coded in man, was selected to determine the origin of the father of human beings because the Y chromosome normally exists only in male cells. Since analyzing all of the tens of thousands of genetic letters in the Y chromosome is impractical, a 729 base pair intron region from a small part of the chromosome was used to investigate similarities and differences among humans. According to Dorit, the head of the team carrying out the DNA sequence comparisons of 729 base pair in the Y chromosome of 38 people using appropriate DNA technologies, the aim of the study was to establish a family tree based on the genetic changes detected in this intron region and to calculate approximately when the male ancestor appeared. However, contrary to the changes found in mitochondrial genes, no differences and changes were seen in the 729 base pair intron region. However, when the same sequence was compared to that of DNA samples isolated from chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas, several different nucleotide sequences were noticed. Consequently, when the information obtained was evaluated, no clear clue was found about where and when the first male ancestor of man lived. However, R. L. Dorit interprets the result of the study as follows:

“It is most likely today that the male ancestor of man is a small group of men that lived about 270 thousand years ago. Contrary to previous comments, the human species did not appear 1-2 million years ago. However, more research needs to be done with reference to other DNA sequences of the human genome to say something definite.”

Before accepting or rejecting this hypothesis or similar ones developed as a result of the interpretation of the information obtained from the experiments of molecular biology, a few issues should be taken into consideration.

Firstly, it is very difficult to say anything definite by regarding these studies, based on the analysis of a limited number of nucleotide sequences of a particular gene or genes with a limited number of samples from the genetic information of man, consisting of approximately 4-5 billion letters (nucleotides), enough. Besides, depending on the gene or nucleotide sequences referenced in the human genome, it is always possible to reach different conclusions, interpretations, and different family trees. We can facilitate understanding it with an example like this: It is possible to find a lot of words and suffixes such as and, even, so, -ed and -ing, in the lines of a historical novel, a philosophical work or a geography book. In this case, it is absurd to claim that these different books are derived from one another, and it is equally absurd to claim that some of the millions of nucleotides of different living beings come from one another based on the fact that they are similar or the same. As a matter of fact, studies conducted with reference to nucleotide sequences of genes other than mitochondria contradict the results of the Eve Hypothesis. Besides, Dr. M. Wolpoff, a paleobiologist from the University of Michigan, believes that the apparent information of the African-origin Eve hypothesis sheds light on the history of different genetic systems as well as the existence of a single common genetic system equally, or that the new information contradicts this hypothesis.

Secondly, it is another point to consider how precisely and accurately the biological research methods based on observation, controlled experiment, repeatability and testability can show the creation, emergence and distribution of the first man on the earth. It is not possible to observe the events in the past again and to make experiments and repeat them by forming and arranging the same conditions exactly. Then, the biologists have two ways to understand the past events and imagine or design the past based on the predicted models that are established.

One of them is revealing the approximate picture and history of past events and living beings based on fossils unearthed during geological surveys. However, it is known that the fossils found so far are incomplete and inadequate to show the history and picture of the past.

The other is to use this information to predict and understand the past after identifying the changes in the common characteristics of the beings living in different climatic conditions. In this point, comparing the similarities and differences in the shape, structure and functions of different living things, estimating the time of appearance of the changes in the studied characteristics and drawing a family tree are the main strategies to follow. However, the important thing to remember in this approach is that there is no evidence showing that similarities and differences in the form, structure and function detected among different living beings derive randomly from one living being with 100% certainty and accuracy, and that they appear randomly in the form of the rings of a chain. On the contrary, the fact that some words and lines in the genetic coding are similar or identical is seen as the greatest evidence for the oneness of the Creator and His creating them as a manifestation of His knowledge and power. In other words, starting from the correlation between the similarities and differences, it is known that the cause-effect relationship cannot be accessed in one step and that the gaps between them can only be explained by attributing them to the will of Allah.

To sum up, scientists with professional honor should draw attention to the differences between the studies based on observation and experiment related to these issues and the interpretations about them without being influenced by ideological prejudices, and to the fact that these estimates about the past are not 100% true and accurate and that the accuracy and validity may change as the number of genes and the nucleotide sequences that are studied increases. Thus, there will be no possibility for the public to be misinformed and misguided about these issues and for the people to deny the Creator in the name of science, and to base their origin on coincidental chemical reactions and on ape-like creatures.2


1. Newsweek 111 (Jan. 11, 1988): 46-52.

2. Prof. Dr. Arif Sarsılmaz, Havva Hipotezine Cevap, August, 1995, No:199

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