In human genetics, the Mitochondrial Eve (also mt-Eve, mt-MRCA) is the matrilineal most recent common ancestor (MRCA) of all currently living humans, i.e., the most recent woman from whom all living humans descend in an unbroken line purely through their mothers, and through the mothers of those mothers, back until all lines converge on one woman.
In terms of mitochondrial haplogroups, the mt-MRCA is situated at the divergence of macro-haplogroup L into L0 and L1–6. As of 2018[update], estimates on the age of this split range between roughly 170,000 and 100,000 years ago, i.e. after the emergence of Homo sapiens but earlier than the recent Out-of-Africa dispersal.
The male analog to the "Mitochondrial Eve" is the "Y-chromosomal Adam" (or Y-MRCA), the individual from whom all living humans are patrilineally descended. As the identity of both matrilineal and patrilineal MRCAs is dependent on genealogical history (pedigree collapse), they need not have lived at the same time. As of 2013, estimates for the age Y-MRCA are subject to substantial uncertainty, with a wide range of times from 180,000 to 580,000 years ago (with an estimated age of between 120,000 and 156,000 years ago, roughly consistent with the estimate for mt-MRCA.).
The name "Mitochondrial Eve" alludes to biblical Eve. This led to repeated misrepresentations or misconceptions in journalistic accounts on the topic. Popular science presentations of the topic usually point out such possible misconceptions by emphasizing the fact that the position of mt-MRCA is neither fixed in time (as the position of mt-MRCA moves forward in time as mtDNA lineages become extinct), nor does it refer to a "first woman", nor the only living female of her time, nor the first member of a "new species".