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July 11, 2014 10:44 PM   Subscribe

The more things change, the more they stay the same: "Your great555m grandfather was a sponge and spent his life bored as fuck."
posted by paleyellowwithorange (26 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
What? No mention that our Great15,000,000 Grandfather was called Purgatorius? C'mon!
posted by linux at 10:54 PM on July 11


Current theory has the Ctenophora (comb jellies) as the earliest-diverging animal lineage still alive. Apparently, sponges evolved from more complex ancestors.
posted by Mitrovarr at 11:14 PM on July 11


I sometimes feel like a proto primate, especially before coffee...
posted by Namlit at 11:22 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]




11,000BC: Your great500 grandfather didn’t spend years toiling over which career would be the best expression of his inner purpose. He hunted animals, battled other tribes, and somehow managed to impregnate someone before dying in his early 30s. Had he not, you and a few million other of today’s people wouldn’t currently exist.

338,000BC: Now we reach a time before humans were fully humans, and a time when a very special man lived. Scientists call him Y-chromosomal Adam. Y-chromosomal Adam is the most recent male ancestor from whom all current living humans are descended—in other words, he’s not just your great14,000 grandfather, he is everyone’s great14,000 grandfather, and the last time in history a common male ancestor to all of us lived. All ancestors we discuss from this point onward are common to the entire human race.

The "identical ancestors" point, where all ancestors are common to all living today, was likely passed when we got back to 11,000BC. Had somebody living at that time failed to reproduce it would have a genetic impact on everybody alive today. However, the last common male ancestor of all humans was even more recent, living within historical times*, as ancestry is passed through both mother and father. Y-chromosomal Adam is the beginner of all fatherlines in existence, that is, unbroken father to father.

*Although the most recent common ancestor could have been a woman, her father would then be the most recent common male ancestor. Given that our most recent common ancestor almost certainly lived in the Old World, lived after the invention of writing, and that the number of common ancestors increases more than exponentially with every generation back, we likely know the name of a person who is the common ancestor of all humans. Maybe some scribe thought they were being rather parochial when recording a grain contract somewhere in the backrivers of Mesopotamia all those years ago, but the fact that Lugal-num bought two bushels of emmer turns out to be important for all humanity.
posted by Thing at 11:30 PM on July 11 [4 favorites]


So what was Y-chromosomal Adam like? He was a disgusting, highly unpleasant man who probably raped people.

I heard he was a really nice old geezer.
posted by Segundus at 11:30 PM on July 11 [1 favorite]


I remember reading that y-chrom Adam lived around 80,000 years ago and mito-Eve around 120,000 years ago. Think it was in the context of the Geographic Project.
posted by Hairy Lobster at 1:03 AM on July 12


My great^14000 grandfather was a firefighter. Mom always said I had those fire-fighting eyes. LOL. I need to rethink a lot of things.
posted by passerby at 1:13 AM on July 12


Given that our most recent common ancestor almost certainly lived in the Old World, lived after the invention of writing, and that the number of common ancestors increases more than exponentially with every generation back, we likely know the name of a person who is the common ancestor of all humans.

But some human populations were isolated for much longer than that. The Aborigines that originally settled Australia split off from our Euro-Asian ancestors 62 to 75 thousand years ago, so 80 thousand years sounds about right.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:39 AM on July 12 [4 favorites]


So weird to realize that if you go back far enough, I am descended from creatures that I would otherwise be willing to eat.

BRB--have to write "no fishing" on a Post-it and stick it on he steering wheel of my time machine.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:42 AM on July 12 [17 favorites]


What are you steering around when you travel through time?
posted by ardgedee at 4:30 AM on July 12


Himself, on the way back.
posted by Mogur at 4:32 AM on July 12 [10 favorites]


Not All Ancestors!
posted by spitbull at 4:47 AM on July 12 [11 favorites]


If you want a more serious version of this, PBS did a pretty excellent documentary version of Your Inner Fish, Neil Shubin's book about Tiktaalik, one of the earliest lungfish. I think you have to pay to watch the documentary, but there's all sorts of interesting stuff to poke around in on the website.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:58 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


On the one hand I love stuff like this -- it gives me a pleasant sense of frission and connectedness. Like, if I went back in time and found the right lizard and watched it and all its descendants as they ate bugs and gave birth and minutely changed over eons, following the right individual the whole time, eventually I'd be looking at myself. That's amazing.

On the other:
Your great20 grandfather kept it real. When he wasn’t torturing somebody, he was being tortured himself. When he wasn’t catching the Black Plague and dying, he was slaughtering women and children in the Crusades.
Why is it an internet instinct to making history macho? For all I know my g20 was a shy peasant whose little patch of Europe was stable and who spent his days, like the sponge, "bored as fuck."
posted by postcommunism at 6:29 AM on July 12 [14 favorites]


Evolution, that's where I'm a Viking!
posted by sweetkid at 6:56 AM on July 12 [10 favorites]


Lesson 3: When you kill the last of a species, you're forever erasing hundreds of millions of years of evolution.
posted by anthill at 7:09 AM on July 12 [2 favorites]


What are you steering around when you travel through time?

Any objects in my way as I build up speed before hitting 88 MPH.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 7:30 AM on July 12 [6 favorites]


So weird to realize that if you go back far enough, I am descended from creatures that I would otherwise be willing to eat.

Depending on how peckish I feel, I'd be willing to eat even more recent ancestors. Uncle Martin is looking badly in need of a butter glazing today.
posted by maxsparber at 8:44 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


If you're interested in this subject and would read a serious, rather than humorous, exposition on it, I highly recommend Richard Dawkins' "The Ancestor's Tale".
posted by BuddhaInABucket at 9:22 AM on July 12 [3 favorites]


Let me second the recommendation for The Ancestor's Tale. I found that in the library in hardback about a year after I had switched to e-books and was not reading much on paper any more as a result, but I was so enchanted by it that I lugged the entire multihundred page hardback around until I finished it. Then I found a paperback edition to buy. It's a book truly worth owning.
posted by seyirci at 9:41 AM on July 12


But some human populations were isolated for much longer than that. The Aborigines that originally settled Australia split off from our Euro-Asian ancestors 62 to 75 thousand years ago, so 80 thousand years sounds about right.

But Aboriginal Australians don't only descend from those first settlers. Many have some provable European blood, and all most likely have some ancestry from nearby islands. It only takes one stray fisherman from Indonesia a few hundred years ago to bring a big deal of the Australion population into the main genetic population.
posted by Thing at 10:03 AM on July 12 [1 favorite]


I remember reading that y-chrom Adam lived around 80,000 years ago

That was before they found a man with a Y that pushed the date back to 340,000 years.
posted by fings at 6:24 PM on July 12 [1 favorite]


Wait, so did that Adam guy 340K years ago basically just give birth to the relatives of "Lugal-num", who then gave birth to all modern humans?
When I read that a monkey had one kid that went on to make men, and another that went on to make primates, all I could think of was how awkward those family reunions have gotten. At this point, whenever we have them, it seems I'm the one who pays for everything and the other side of the family just eats and flings poop at me...until we decide to stop talking about politics and go to the zoo instead.
posted by whatgorilla at 1:20 PM on July 13


Y-chromosome Adam is your father's father's father's father's...father's father's father, no matter who you are in the whole of the world. Go up the line of father to father and everybody gets back to him. "Lugal-num" (or whatever his name might have been) is the most recent common ancestor of all living humans by any route whatsoever. It might be that he is your mother's father's father's mother' mother's...father, or whatever. Everybody in the world has at least one route back to him somehow.
posted by Thing at 5:00 PM on July 13


Well, our last common ancestor with chimps had one kid who went on to become humans, and one whose descendants became chimpanzees and bonobos. They're (and we're) already primates.
posted by ChuraChura at 9:29 PM on July 13


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