To understand the Eve gene theory, we have to look back more than 200,000 years – but why is it being talked about today?
The Eve gene is a theory that stems from ‘mitochondrial Eve’, who geneticists claim lived between 100,000 and 200,000 years ago in southern Africa. However, the concept has been taken another way, with many claiming the gene can produce a baby with any hair colour, eye colour and skin colour.
Over on TikTok, two parents shared a now-viral video of their baby, claiming she possesses the “Eve gene”. What does this mean and what is the science behind the theory?
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TikTok shares Eve gene baby theory
The Eve gene theory has been floating around for decades, tracing DNA in the maternally inherited mitochondria to mitochondrial Eve. More recently, however, the idea has gained traction on TikTok.
Users on the platform are suggesting the Eve gene, inherited by black women, enables the birth of any type of human, non-dependant on race, eye colour and hair colour.
In 2020, TikToker @itscocoakizzy shared a video explaining the theory. She told followers: “When procreating with a black woman, the possibilities are legitimately endless.”
Take a look below:
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More recently, in 2022, a video of a blue-eyed baby went viral after the parents (hazel and brown eyed) claimed the child had inherited the Eve gene. The TikToker wrote: “Our baby has the Eve gene, do you know any other babies that do?”
What does the science say?
Shades Of Noir reports there’s genetic evidence that suggests the earliest modern human species evolved in Africa more than 200,000 years ago.
The same publication references research by the University of Sydney, which explains “mitochondrial DNA is inherited solely from your mother and can remain unchanged for tens of thousands of years”.
Contrary to the theory circulating on TikTok, the Eve gene is merely a nickname for one of the oldest DNA lineages on Earth, a collection of genes called ‘L0’, which are passed down maternally. The term ‘Eve’ refers to the story of creation in Genesis, Shades Of Noir reports.
What does the Eve gene refer to?
Reportedly, the Eve Gene doesn’t necessarily reference the first female human but the “most historically recent female from which humans can trace their ancestry”.
As per Smithsonian, Roger Bull, a senior research assistant in the molecular biodiversity lab at the Canadian Museum of Nature, said: “If ever there was an organism that should be deemed the mitochondrial Eve, it is that unassuming little single cell that engulfed a littler single cell to make the unbeatable biological team: the ancestor of dinosaurs, trees, butterflies.
“The use of the term was a misinterpretation given the research was about the most recent common mitochondrial ancestor of all living humans… not about the first human woman ever.”