Age: About 75,000 Years Ago
Location of Origin: Africa
The common direct paternal ancestor of all men alive today was born in Africa around 140,000 years ago. Dubbed “Y-chromosome Adam” by the popular press, he was neither the first human male nor the only man alive in his time. He was, though, the only male whose Y-chromosome lineage is still around today. All men, including your direct paternal ancestors, trace their ancestry to one of this man’s descendants.
The oldest Y-chromosome lineages in existence, belonging to the A branch of the tree, are found only in African populations. Around 75,000 years ago, the BT branch of the Y-chromosome tree was born, defined by many genetic markers, including M42. The common ancestor of most men living today, some of this man’s descendants would begin the journey out of Africa, to India and the Middle East. Small groups would eventually reach the Americas. Others would settle in Europe, and some from this line remained near their ancestral homeland in Africa.
Individuals from this line in Africa often practice cultural traditions that resemble those of their distant ancestors. For example, they often live in traditional hunter-gatherer societies. These include the Mbuti and Biaka Pygmies of central Africa, as well as Tanzania’s Hadza. As M42-bearing populations migrated around the globe, they picked up additional markers on their Y-chromosomes. Today, there are no known BT individuals without these additional markers.