Reasons to Believe

New Y Chromosome Studies Continue to Support a Recent Origin and Spread of Humanity

Two related studies recently reported by an international team from Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley, and Oxford University add to the growing weight of evidence supporting a recent origin of humanity that is in line with the biblical date. 1-2

Numerous Y chromosome sequence studies have already demonstrated a recent origin of humanity.3 This technique assumes a common ancestor for all human males and that the DNA sequence differences in the Y chromosome result from mutations. Knowing the mutation rate allows an estimate of the time when humanity originated. Y chromosome analysis is a particularly “clean” technique since: 1) long stretches of the Y chromosome do not recombine; 2) the Y chromosome displays single-parent inheritance; and 3) it is thought that the Y chromosome undergoes relatively rapid mutational change. In spite of these strengths, this technique is still in its “infancy” with much room to become more robust.

Enter the two new studies. The research teams identified new sequence variations in the Y chromosome. This finding allowed them to expand the region of the Y chromosome available for defining human origins.4 With a larger sample size and longer sequence along the Y chromosome available for analysis, the two teams measured humanity’s origin to occur around 50,000 years ago. Moreover, they noted what appears to be a rapid and substantial growth in the number of human sub-populations (based on Y chromosome “types”) and a significant population expansion around 28,000 years ago consistent with Genesis 10 and 11.

It is exciting that as the Y chromosomal methodologies become more sound, they reflect consistency with the results of earlier studies and with the biblical account of humanity’s origin and spread around the world.


  1. Peidong Shen, et al., “Population Genetic Implications from Sequence Variation in Four Y Chromomosome Genes,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 97 (2000): 7354-59.
  2. Russell Thomson, et al., “Recent Common Ancestry of Human Y Chromosomes: Evidence From DNA Sequence Data,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 97 (2000): 7360-65.
  3. Hugh Ross, The Genesis Question: Scientific Advances and the Accuracy of Genesis (Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 1998), 111-12.
  4. Shen, et al., 7354-59.

Subjects: Adam and Eve, Human Origins and the Bible, TCM - Human Origins

Dr. Fazale Rana

In 1999, I left my position in R&D at a Fortune 500 company to join Reasons to Believe because I felt the most important thing I could do as a scientist is to communicate to skeptics and believers alike the powerful scientific evidence—evidence that is being uncovered day after day—for God’s existence and the reliability of Scripture. Read more about Dr. Fazale Rana