"Science may have caught up with the Bible," says a recent Reuters story, a fun idea for those of us who enjoyed watching people storm into the Pacific Northwest looking for their own "Twin Peaks" experience or into Maryland for their own private "Blair Witch." I know the Bible is supposed to be bigger than a pop-culture craze, but it's always exciting to see anyone take up a quest.
In this case the quest was for the real-life Adam and Eve, or Eve and Adam, if we're going to list the cast in order of appearance. The story says that the DNA of "Eve," the first woman, is traceable back to 143,000 years ago. The DNA of "Adam," the first man, is traceable back to Africa only 59,000 years ago.
I can barely count change, but even I can see that something isn't right there. It makes it sound like for 84,000 years the world looked like Queen of Outer Space or any sci-fi fantasy flick where planets are populated solely by women in spandex.
As near as I can figure out, it's not just the oldest DNA, but the oldest DNA that's common to all of us. There had to have been some male DNA 143,000 years ago, but it didn't get passed on; it got passed up. If the first male to mate with Eve didn't pass on the unique male Y chromosome, he would "chalk up a big zero in the Adam and Eve genetic stakes," according to Fox. I suppose genetics is like a picky Fiestaware collector: If it doesn't come as a set, it doesn't make the cut.
Women also had more sure-thing chances to breed than men did, because members of dominant male tribes were sometimes the only ones who got the ladies, so theirs were the only genes that got to go on the field trip. There's also the theory that a lot of guys were just watching sports for 84,000 years. But that's my theory, so it doesn't count.
The story says there is mitochondrial DNA that is passed down virtually unchanged from mother to daughter, and considering we all have this Eve woman in common, it's interesting to consider just what was encoded in that DNA that is common to us all. Not just the basics like survival, reproduction and finding a good hair color. My guess is there are phrases encoded in lots of those little rungs that might have changed their wording in the past 100-plus millennia but which we all share and have Eve to thank for. A few theories on what they are:
"Guys are such Neanderthals."
"I want to migrate to Paris."
"I love that cave painting, but the lighting is terrible over there. Can't you move it?"
"Og is a great storyteller, but it's always wars, battles, action. I'd like to hear one of those little independent storytellers once in a while."
"Of course I want to be mother to an entire species, but I have to have something for myself first. I'm going to be a medicine woman, and if you don't like it, there are plenty of dominant males who would."
"I have wicked cramps. Let's wait to fan out across Asia till after the weekend, OK?"
"Look, I don't like her either, but she's my mother, and she's going with us. If you want to leave something on the hillside to die, how about that pelt you've been wearing since your coming-of-age ritual? It smells worse than the pig you skinned it off."
"Yeah, I've faked it."
"Thank God animal prints are still in."
"How do my hips look in this loin cloth? You can tell me the truth."
"The hunters are all hot, but you can't talk to them. The guys you can talk to, well, they're not alpha males. I wonder if dating will ever get easier."
Share and share alike
OK, maybe not all of them are common to every single woman, but I wouldn't be surprised if most of them aren't mixed into the mortar of our foundations, sprinkled in with those things that become more specified over the years, like "I know they say ‘All women become their mothers,' but I'm not going to," and "What sadist designed these shoes?" As for the male equivalent, it's probably a little simpler: "sex," "food," "sleep" and "I'll call ya." This isn't a slam; there's plenty to be said for minimalism.
And plenty to be said for our common traits. The things described above come down to comfort, curiosity, doubt and hope, which we all share and must be in our mutual make-up. Whether you believe in science or the Bible or some combination, it's interesting to realize we have one common ancestor. As creepy as it may sound, we're all related, and not just to Kevin Bacon but to each other.
You know what that means, don't you? It's time you invited me over for Thanksgiving dinner, cousin. Think it over if you want. But if you say no, I'll tell everyone you've slept with your relatives. Ew.