A painting by 16th century Italian painter Titian shows Adam and Eve, believed to be the first man and woman on Earth, in the Garden of Eden. A new study claims that Adam and Eve lived apart and probably didn't know each other. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)
A painting by 16th century Italian painter Titian shows Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

A new study has pushed the time of the existence of Adam in evolutionary history to several thousand years further.

The study, conducted by Dr Eran Elhaik from the University of Sheffield and Dr Dan Graur from the University of Houston, suggests that humans' most recent common ancestor (MRCA), Adam, walked on Earth 209,000 years ago, about 9,000 years earlier than scientists previously thought.

The researchers claim to have used conventional biological models that put Adam in his "rightful place in evolutionary history."

"Such an extraordinarily early estimate contradicts all previous estimates in the literature," researchers noted in their findings published in the latest issue of the European Journal of Human Genetics.

Scientists calculated the age of the male ancestor's Y chromosome (which contains genetic material exchanged between father and son) by multiplying the average age at which fathers have their first child with the number of mutations.

"Of course, we can manipulate each one of these variables to make a finding look younger or older," Dr Elhaik told MailOnline.

Groups of 'Adams and 'Eves'

The findings debunk a recent study by Arizona University that claimed the human Y chromosome originated in a different species through interbreeding, dating Adam to be twice as old.

"We have shown that the University of Arizona study lacks any scientific merit. It is obvious that modern humans did not interbreed with hominins living over 500,000 years ago," Dr Elhaik said in a statement.

"It is also clear that there was no single 'Adam' and 'Eve' (the genetic maternal ancestor of mankind) but rather groups of 'Adams and 'Eves' living side by side and wandering together in our world."

The findings also suggest that Adam and Eve existed around the same time, contrary to a previous claim that Adam and Eve lived apart.

A study by scientists from Stanford University, the University of Michigan Medical School and Stony Brook University in August last year showed that man's MRCA lived sometime between 120,000 and 156,000 years ago, while Eve lived between 99,000 and 148,000 years ago.

"We can say with some certainty that modern humans emerged in Africa a little over 200,000 years ago," he said.