Mitochondrial Eve is a concept in molecular biology that refers to a common ancestor of all of the currently living anatomically modern human beings. The concept describes a maternal lineage of mitochondrial DNA that originated approximately 100,000 to 200,000 years ago.
Mitochondrial Eve refers to an actual person who is thought to have lived in East Africa. Scientists and anthropologists have estimated that all anatomically modern humans living today descended from this one woman. Mitochondria are small organelles that are found in every living cells of humans. They have their own DNA that is transferred directly from mother to child. For this reason, scientists and anthropologists have estimated that all living humans today must have descended from one common woman ancestor. To determine the common ancestor, scientists tested the mitochondrial DNA of blood samples. Next, they determined the general relatedness of the different samples. Geneticists then determined the rate of genetic mutation that could have occurred in the past 100,000 to 200,000 years. By applying all of the data to different scientifically-based population models, scientists were able to determine the geographical and historical time periods in which the Mitochondrial Eve existed. This common ancestor is analogous to the Y-chromosomal Adam from which the Y chromosome is derived.