The Real Eve

Synopsis: The made-for-cable documentary film The Real Eve is predicated on the theory that the human race can be traced to a common ancestor. The mitochondrial DNA of one prehistoric woman, who lived in Africa, has according to this theory been passed down from generation to generation over a span of 150,000 years, supplying the "chemical energy" to all humankind.
Genre: Documentary
Director(s): Andrew Piddington
Actors: Danny Glover
Production: Granada Television Group
103 min

This woman is

the mother of mankind.

The genetic Eve

from whom we all descend.

She lived 150,000 years ago

in East Africa...

and every one on Earth

is related to her.

Her daughters and granddaughters

would take humans out of Africa...

to populate

the rest of the world...

the most important journey

mankind would ever make.

Genetic tracking, for the first time,

gives us a route map of our journey.

With it, we can follow our families

as they travel through the world...

overcome hardships, separate and go

different ways to discover new lands.

It tells, for the first time, who

we are and where we come from.

The most profound questions

that have troubled mankind...

since we first raised our heads

and looked at the stars.

This new science

is a breakthrough.

Every one of us can now trace

our part in this incredible story.

We took samples from

these people in Chicago.

Genetic testing will show how their

ancestors traveled the world...

to reach this destination.

150,000 years ago, the world

was in the grip of an ice age.

The ice caps have advanced.

Sea levels dropped 400 feet.

North Africa is a vast desert

with small islands of green.

On these islands,

are tiny groups of people.

These are the first

modern humans...

recognizably like us today in

physique, intellect and abilities.

We are the same people

they were.

The brain that first started chipping

stone tools also took us into space.

They are hunter-gatherers,

living in widely scattered groups.

Roaming each year

over great distances...

sheltering where they can,

gathering seeds and fruit.

150,000 years ago,

hunting was the key to survival.

It explains much about the way

the human race developed.

Hunting needs careful thought and

planning. It needed cooperation...

that demanded enhanced intelligence

and communication skills.

Genetic tracking is unlocking more

secrets than we believed possible.

In just 7,000 generations,

modern humans have left Africa...

and penetrated

every corner of the globe.

And through the unbroken genetic

thread binding us to our past...

we can begin to understand

why it happened.

Archaeologists can tell us in detail

how modern humans lived.

But, to understand who we are

and where we come from...

we must look at

our genetic heritage.

Genetic Eve, the woman

from whom we all descend...

was not the only woman living at

the time or even the most fertile.

But her mitochondrial genes

were the most successful...

and the only ones to survive.

Everyone alive today can trace

a common ancestrial line...

back to this one woman through

a unique part of our DNA...

mitochondrial DNA.

DNA, the blueprint of life,

is our own molecular pin code...

and uniquely identifies

each of us.

Mitochondria are tiny structures

found inside nearly all human cells.

It is separated from the normal

chromosomal DNA...

that dictates our height

or the color of our eyes.

Men inherit it from their mother,

but they can't pass it on.

In women, it carries on

from mother to daughter...

down the endless generation,

almost unchanged.

This is how we can

trace our way back...

to our genetic Eve

and her daughters.

So, written within it, is the

history of the world's women...

and, therefore,

the human race.

Professor Rebecca Cann

was the pioneering scientist...

who uncovered

the first all-important clue.

I started working on

human mitochondrial DNA...

so that I would have a view

that was objective...

that would help me and

other people understand...

how humans around the world

are related.

With this new science,

she could.

Harmless mutation happens all the

time in the mitochondrial DNA...

leaving minute markers

at every change.

These markers are like bar codes

and can be read in the same way.

Cann discovered the changes

happen at a fairly constant rate.

The groups with the earliest markers

were the Africans living in Africa...

and wondered if they might be

the oldest people in the world.

I was very excited when

I first started to get evidence...

and it was so counter-intuitive.

I put 20 Europeans

and 20 African-Americans...

on a sheet of X-ray film...

and every African-American

showed differences...

and all the Europeans

looked the same.

I thought I'd mislabeled something

or I'd made some drastic mistake.

We kept repeating things, as we got

more samples from different areas...

I realized that it was

a difference in the pattern.

And that this new type of evidence,

based on mitochondria...

was going to change the way we

thought about modern humans.

In 1 987, Cann and her colleagues

published a paper...

showing for the first time that the

markers stretched back to Africa.

Showing quite clearly that this was

the birthplace of the human race.

New Guinean tribesman,

Parisian bartender...

American teacher, Polynesian farmer,

all were improbable relatives...

linked through one black woman

150,000 years ago.

Their findings

caused a sensation.

The responses of people

were sort of amazing.

The public was genuinely interested

in certain aspects, but there was...

a tendency to misinterpret the

data because of the terminology.

It was to describe this woman,

African Eve.

People thought it meant the biblical

Eve, the single woman...

in the Judeo-Christian bible,

the wife of Adam.

I have to say even my own uncle

sent me a Christmas card...

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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