Episode #268

News Items

Who's That Noisy

  • Answer to last week: Embolisms occurring in plant vasculature

Interview with Donald Prothero

  • Donald Prothero teaches Physical and Historical Geology, Sedimentary Geology, and Paleontology. His specialties are mammalian paleontology and magnetic stratigraphy of the Cenozoic. His current research focuses on the dating of the climatic changes that occurred between 30 and 40 million years ago, using the technique of magnetic stratigraphy.

Question #1 – Mitochondrial Eve Follow Up

  • I want to offer a quick correction about mitochondrial eve as described in episode 266 of the skeptic’s guide. Steve described mitochondrial Eve as our most recent female common ancestor. This is not necessarily, and almost certainly isn’t, true. Mitochondrial Eve is our most recent female common ancestor along the all-female line, but we could have more recent female common ancestors along other lines. The mother of our most recent male common ancestor, who, because of certain advantages men have over women in creating large numbers of progeny, almost certainly existed much more recently than mitochondrial Eve would be one such more recent female common ancestor. In fact, of all the lines of ancestry we could follow back, the all female line is likely to be among the very longest that we would have to follow to get to a common ancestor. I don’t know how likely it is that mitochondrial Eve lived during an evolutionary bottleneck, but it’s not clear to me that that should be the case. I know you love these corrections, you can blame my intro to human evolution teacher for this one. Chris Zerhusen

Science or Fiction

Skeptical Quote of the Week.