Alana Alexander Featured in Smithsonian.com
There was a recent discovery of the "Eve" of sperm whales -- the female whale from which all sperm whales are descended. The use of such a biblical term has led people to believe that the "Eve" of a species refers to the first female in a species, but this is not the case. In an article titled, "No, a Mitochondrial 'Eve' Is Not the First Female in a Species," by Joshua Rapp Learn, Alana Alexander clarifies what it really means when people refer to the "Eve" of sperm whales. According to Alexander, "Eve" was one of many females, but she happened to be the only one who passed down the mitochondrial DNA in an unbroken, female-to-female way." The "mitochondrial Eve" refers to the mitochondrial DNA, the unique genetic code that is passed down from female to female. To read more about this phenomenon, click here.
Photo by Hiroya Minakuchi/Minden Pictures/Corbis