Joe, interesting post:
Y-chromosome "Adam" was not necessarily human. I (kinda) like the opening:
"Metaphors in science play an important role in communicating results from one field to scientists in other fields and to the general public. In some cases, however, metaphors are so successful and so appealing that they actually obscure rather than enlighten."
It is time for us to entirely retire the "Adam and Eve" metaphor. I'm telling you that coming from a family who were co-conspirators with John Knox and the Protestant Reformation and leading lights of the Church during the Middle Ages. We have to ask Adam (and his consort) to kindly stay out of the corridors of Science.
To start with, statistically speaking, there will never be a clear horizon for humanness.
We will never know if "Y-chromosome Adam" and "Mitochondrial Eve" were human or not. I frankly do not care.
There is also the issue that every time we use this metaphor, it clouds our already vulnerable scientific thinking.
As we study different cultures in the world, we discover that many do not conceive of creation in "Adam and Eve" terms. You could even say that the creation stories of some indigenous people are closer to the scientific truth than the myth of "Adam and Eve".
As the article that Flo Débarre retweeted yesterday, Martin Nowak, Evolution, and God, only too clearly illustrates, the dollars are following "scientists" that incorporate "Adam and Eve" stories into their research. I am horrified. (Thank you, Flo.)
Regarding the use of the Y-chromosome as a measure of human evolution, I am not sure it is a good one. I haven't fully understood the implication of the Melissa A. Wilson Sayres paper Natural Selection Reduced Diversity on Human Y Chromosomes.
I tire of hearing that the poor, dumb lay public cannot understand evolutionary science without these outmoded metaphors. Evolutionary scientists and geneticists themselves are falling back on inappropriate metaphor and outmoded classification systems. They themselves seem confused. For some outside the field, that is all too clear.
It is time to entirely retire the "Adam and Eve" metaphor when trying to discuss or convey to the public concepts of human evolution.
Have a nice Sunday. We're headed off to the Exploratorium.
Update: Good, Joe. ""Adam" confuses everyone." Am here at the Exploratorium, gazing out at San Francisco Bay. Am a bit buzzed after a "Seawater" martini. Daughter wants to know if she can eat the legs on shrimp. Oysters. Yum. Just realized in my above diatribe that I used the term "scientific truth". Oops. Sorry. Wish we could all just down some "Seawater" martinis, eat oysters, let go of our individualism, and do Science.