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The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry (2001)

by Bryan Sykes

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1,748317,702 (3.87)95
In 1994 Professor Bryan Sykes, a renowned world authority on genetics, was called in to examine the frozen remains of a man trapped in ice in northern Italy. News of the discovery of the Ice Man and his age which Professor Sykes put at over five thousand years old, fascinated the world. But what made the story particularly extraordinary was that Professor Sykes was also able to track down a genetic ancestor of the Ice Man, a woman living in Britain today. How was he able to locate a living relative of a man who died thousands of years beforehand? In The Seven Daughters of Eve, Bryan Sykes tells us of his scientific research into a strand of DNA, known as mithocondrial DNA, which passes undiluted from generation to generation through the maternal line making it possible to trace one's DNA throughout the world and throughout time. After plotting the sequences of sample DNA tissue, he found that they clustered around only seven main groups. The conclusion: almost everyone of European descent, wherever they live in the world, can trace their ancestry back to one of seven women, the so-called seven daughters of Eve. He has named them: Ursula, Tara, Helena, Katrine, Xenia, Jasm… (more)
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I don’t often read about science, but the field of human evolution fascinates me. I find it almost impossible to imagine the sheer expanse of time that has passed between the development of the first modern humans and the present day. It makes my head hurt. Things that seem so important in everyday life suddenly dwindle into nothingness when confronted with the epic story of humanity. But, if you turn the question on its head, you realise that humans really haven’t been around that long at all compared to other species with much longer innings – the dinosaurs, obviously, but even our extinct cousins the Neanderthals. Keep thinking, though, because the really staggering thought is actually the most obvious. Every single one of us alive today has direct ancestors who learned to make fire, who hunted mammoths, who made flint knives. It wasn’t just our general species that descended from these people. You did. I did. If there was a way to trace your family tree back far enough, through the Ice Age and beyond, into a world that looked completely different to the one we know today – if that was possible, you could find out who your ancestors were. Well, it is possible. Bryan Sykes and his fellow geneticists have done it. And this is the story of their work...

For the full review, please see my blog:
https://theidlewoman.net/2019/12/14/the-seven-daughters-of-eve-brian-sykes/ ( )
  TheIdleWoman | Jan 7, 2020 |
Very interesting subject. But I read a 2001 edition so it’s outdated. Interesting stories but too much imagination in the telling. Hard to tell the validity. ( )
  pennykaplan | Jul 25, 2018 |
Science that reveals our genetic ancestry
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
An amazing book that keeps your interest all the way through. Who says science can't be exciting? ( )
  PhyllisHarrison | Feb 9, 2017 |
Now *this* is how a science book is supposed to be written, imo. ?Focus on the explanation of the actual science - of the theory, of the experiments & tests, of the conclusions. ?áGo into history & personalities only enough to clarify what information you're trying to share. ?áWrite conversationally, but without forced wit. ?áI only wish that 1. this were newer 2. there was more known about the mitochondrial history of the world beyond Europe known at the time this was written, and 3. there was included a list of books recommended for further reading. ?áOf course, one of the strengths of this book is that it was published at exactly the right moment, only months after the theory was fully integrated with data that was made available as criticisms of the original release (to academia) were answered. ?áSo it's not the book's fault it's old; it's mine for not reading it sooner. ?áAnd even though it is old, it's still very much worth reading. ?á

Interestingly, I liked the first part of the book best. ?áThe title doesn't become directly relevant until about 2/3 through, when the author describes what the lives of each of these seven women may have been like. ?áToo many suppositions needed to be made, even though, of course, paleoanthropologists have some pretty good ideas that Sykes did use. ?áEven there, though, were some interesting ideas. ?áFor example, Jasmine's story includes an idea that may be relevant to understanding the Great Flood stories.

I particularly like the last chapter, A Sense of Self. ?áIn that chapter Sykes makes it finally fully clear how race is a myth, and how mitochondrial lineages work. ?áHis metaphor of the stage and the string is lovely. ?áIf you want to see whether you want to read the book, at least read that chapter. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
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In 1994 Professor Bryan Sykes, a renowned world authority on genetics, was called in to examine the frozen remains of a man trapped in ice in northern Italy. News of the discovery of the Ice Man and his age which Professor Sykes put at over five thousand years old, fascinated the world. But what made the story particularly extraordinary was that Professor Sykes was also able to track down a genetic ancestor of the Ice Man, a woman living in Britain today. How was he able to locate a living relative of a man who died thousands of years beforehand? In The Seven Daughters of Eve, Bryan Sykes tells us of his scientific research into a strand of DNA, known as mithocondrial DNA, which passes undiluted from generation to generation through the maternal line making it possible to trace one's DNA throughout the world and throughout time. After plotting the sequences of sample DNA tissue, he found that they clustered around only seven main groups. The conclusion: almost everyone of European descent, wherever they live in the world, can trace their ancestry back to one of seven women, the so-called seven daughters of Eve. He has named them: Ursula, Tara, Helena, Katrine, Xenia, Jasm

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393323145, 0393020185

 

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