“Mitochondrial Eve,” the common ancestor of all living humans, was born in Africa some 150,000 years ago. All existing MtDNA diversity began with Eve and it remains greatest, and subsequently oldest, in Africa.
Y chromosome polymorphisms on the male line of descent also point to an African origin for all humans, but our male common ancestor, “Adam,” lived only about 60,000 years ago.
MtDNA and the Y chromosome are independent parts of our genetic makeup and each tells a different tale of successive genetic mutations over the eons. That is why their approximate coalescence points are different. Yet while the dates vary, both paths point emphatically to a surprisingly recent African origin for all humans.
The oldest known fossil remains of anatomically modern humans were found in Ethiopia’s Omo River Valley. The skeletons, known as Omo I and Omo II, have been dated to about 195,000 years ago.
Although haplogroup L3 does not appear outside of Africa it is an important part of the human migrations from that continent to the rest of the world.
A single person of the L3 lineage gave rise to the M and N haplogroups some 80,000 years ago.
All Eurasian mtDNA lineages are subsequently descended from these two groups.
The African Ice Age was characterized by drought rather than by cold. But about 50,000 years ago a period of warmer temperatures and moist climate made even parts of the arid Sahara habitable. The climatic shift likely spurred hunter-gatherer migrations into a steppe-like Sahara—and beyond.
This “Saharan Gateway” led humans out of Africa to the Middle East. The route they took is uncertain. They may have traveled north down the Nile to the Mediterranean coast and the Sinai. Alternatively, they may have crossed what was then a land bridge connecting the Bab al Mandab to Arabia, after which they either skirted the then-lush, verdant eastern coast of the Red Sea or headed east along the Gulf of Aden towards the Arabian Sea.
When the climate again turned arid, expanding Saharan sands slammed the Saharan Gateway shut. The desert was at its driest between 20,000 and 40,000 years ago, and during this period Middle East migrants became isolated from Africa.
From their new Middle East location, however, they would go on to populate much of the world.
M is a macro-haplogroup whose various sub groups are found in Eastern Eurasia, East Asia (M7, M8), America (C, D), and the Indian subcontinent—though not in Europe.
The M lineage arose from the African haplogroup defined by L3. With haplogroup N, this lineage traces the first human migrations out of Africa.
Haplogroup M ancestors were part of a great coastal migration that took place some 50,000 years ago. Hunter-gatherers skilled at seaside living wandered along the coasts of the southern Arabian Peninsula, India, Sri Lanka, and Southeast Asia.
This ancient southern coastline was drowned by rising sea levels at the end of the last ice age. The rising waters also swallowed most archaeological traces of these early coastal-dwelling peoples.
Yet in places their physical footprint endures. Some of the fast-moving migrants reached and populated distant Australia soon after leaving Africa. Australian archaeological evidence, such as rock art, confirms their presence as early as 40,000 or perhaps even 60,000 years ago.
During the glacial Pleistocene era (about 50,000 years ago) sea levels in some places were 330 feet (100 meters) lower than they are today. The landmass known as Sunda (comprised of modern Sumatra and Borneo) was separated by just 62 miles (100 kilometers) of open water from Sahul, a second landmass comprised of Australia, New Guinea and Tasmania.
Though Australia was never connected to the continent by a land bridge, such short stretches of relatively calm water were apparently navigable by these early seafarers.
Haplogroup M is a broad group comprised of many as-yet undefined branches. Learning more about such lineages will add further clarity to the big picture of human genetic diversity, and is a primary goal of the Genographic Project.
Is there some way to find more information from this study? It seems very generalized and vague…
Your mum’s GG Granddad may well have been French but he has nothing to do with your haplogroup M*. M* is maternal DNA and is passed from daughter to daughter. A son also reveives his mother’s mtDNA but doesn’t pass it on to any of his children. A female can only be tested for her mother’s dna whereas a son can be tested for his father’s and mother’s dna.
My father was Scottish and my Y-DNA test revealed that indeed my closest matches are all Scots. My mother’s ancestry is much more complex, being English, Welsh, Portuguese and Indian. The fact that my test came back as M* means that for many thousands of years my maternal line all came from the Indian sub-continent. What is even more interesting is that my closest matches all come from a province called Sind in todays Pakistan.
You may be Singaporean but Singapore is a recent construct, but chances are that your female ancestors came from the Indian sub-continent.
As to Jojo – here’s some wild speculation for you. The Tuscans (who may well have been origionaly Greek) at least traded a great deal with the Greek world. As we all know Alexander the Great conquered North West India and wives and slaves were brought back to Greece. Maybe that’s the connection. As I say – wild speculation but it would be really interesting to find out what percentage of your Tuscan valley also carries M.
my results – haplogroup M*. Im Singaporean and needed to know where my lineage really lies. I only heard stories from mum that she had a great great grandad who was French! how is that then? Im not very clear with the results and would love if someone could share their knowledge with me…thankz!
My results are are really stirring it up! I came back halogroup M – seafearer on my mothers side. I thought this might be a mix up because she is 100% Tuscan Italian and we can trace are family for hundreds of years to a single valley in Itlay. So I had my mom do the same DNA test and she came back identical to mine (duh!) but I’m still trying to link when this M migrated to Italy? Just as a note, my family and most of the people from this valley in Italy have distinctive bright blue eyes and fairer complexion. Any explanations here??? Jojo
Hello to everyone, I recieved my mtdna results from National Geographic and found that I belong to the L3 haplogroup. I found this fascinating for many reasons, cultural and ethnic being I am Puerto Rican descent. I am confused by the mutations in my results which are, 16124c, 16223t, 16288c, 16419c. can anyone help ? My mother does not look african due to her mother being mixed with Spanish and Native American and her father being of Spanish and Indian descent as well but her resutls show African mtdna. I myself have an olive complexion with black hair and been mistaken for Arab, Sicillian as well as Greek and Portugeese. It’s all very complex and beautiful and interesing, I am quite aware that the percentenges of genectic dna make up the apperance of a person but any insight into any information stated here would be sincerely appreciated.
Hello to everyone,
I recieved my mtdna results from National Geographic and found that I belong to the L3 haplogroup. I found this fascinating for many reasons, cultural and ethnic being I am Puerto Rican descent. I am confused by the mutations in my results which are, 16124c, 16223t, 16288c, 16419c. can anyone help ? My mother does not look african due to her mother being mixed with Spanish and Native American and her father being of Spanish and Indian descent as well but her resutls show African mtdna. I myself have an olive complexion with black hair and been mistaken for Arab, Sicillian as well as Greek and Portugeese. It’s all very complex and beautiful and interesing, I am quite aware that the percentenges of genectic dna make up the apperance of a person but any insight into any information stated here would be sincerely appreciated.
Yes, this is the same group.
My mother is from the Seafareres Haplogroup M. Do we match up/
Hey, fellow tribesman. I’m of the Haplogroup M too, and I actually thought that if you have the same haplogroup, you basically have the same genetic journey. Not so with mine. Mine’s rather weird – apparently my ancestors made it to Australia, and I even have some coming from Central Asia. I guess mine’s a rather mixed up lineage 😉 And better … I’m Chinese but none of my maternal ancestors hail from thataway!
Yes I agree the study is not too deep, but does offer a way to participate in something that’s so tantalizing.
Haplogroup L3 is best described here:
“A single person of the L3 lineage gave rise to the M and N haplogroups some 80,000 years ago.
All Eurasian mtDNA lineages are subsequently descended from these two groups.”
The other numbers are the key to your particular Maternal line, they are the mutations in your dna.
These are fairly broad as well, some geographic regions for these mutations are:
16124C -Africa/Afr. Amer
16223T -Hisp. Amer/ Afr. Amer
16362C -Asia Africa
There’s more information at here:
And that’s a good forum for further exploration. Here’s one of the comments there, in regard to a similar question by another poster:
“You have a great number of exact matches in Western and Central Africa and among African Americans as well. As it was pointed, your particular variant of mtdna has nothing to do with the geographic “percentages” of your ancestry, this sequence should be treated as a whole since it represents your direct maternal line only, not other ancestors.”
I completed the Genograhhic Project, but I find that so much is left unanswered.
I was told that I am from Haplogroup L3, bnut I differ at the following locations
16124C,16168T,16184T,16189C,16214A,16223T,16239T,16362C,16519C What does that mean?.