Although this doesn’t mean Native Americans descended from only these six women, it does confirm previous studies that indicated six maternal lineages based on mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited solely from the mother. Using mitochondrial DNA, researchers created a partial family tree, noting mutations in each branch and estimating, based on uniformitarian assumptions, the length of time since the mitochondrial DNA indicated a single person (the female forebear).
The team estimated the women lived between 18,000 and 21,000 years ago (not necessarily all at the same time).
Since their DNA signatures are not found in Asians, the team also concluded the “founding mothers” were probably from the area of the Bering Strait, location of a land or ice bridge where the first Americans migrated from Asia to Alaska.
As for the “when,” the team estimated the women lived between 18,000 and 21,000 years ago (not necessarily all at the same time). This is based on the assumption that today’s rate of mutations in mitochondrial DNA can be extrapolated back into the past. However, this is just an assumption based on the doctrine of uniformitarianism (that is, that the rates of change we observe in nature today are roughly the same as for all of time).
Regarding the dating, University of Florida anthropologist Connie Mulligan, who wasn’t involved in the study, tells the Associated Press that:
The estimate for when the women lived is open to question because it's not clear whether the researchers properly accounted for differing mutation rates in mitochondrial DNA, she said. Further work could change the estimate, “possibly dramatically,” she said.
Since the Bible tells us that the migration to the Americas could have only taken place after Babel, about 2250 BC (according to Ussher’s chronology), these six women could not have lived more than about 4,000 years ago. These women, along with others, were part of the group that, leaving Babel, eventually made its way onto the North American continent and populated the Americas. From a small population came Native Americans, just as that small population can be traced back to another small population—the three sons of Noah and their wives, who repopulated the earth after the Flood.
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