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Hardcover The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry Book

ISBN: 0393020185

ISBN13: 9780393020182

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

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Book Overview

In 1994 Bryan Sykes was called in as an expert to examine the frozen remains of a man trapped in glacial ice in northern Italy for over 5000 years--the Ice Man. Sykes succeeded in extracting DNA from... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

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The Seven Daughters of Eve

In this lucid, absorbing work, Brian Sykes reveals the story behind one of the most momentous scientific discoveries of the 1990s, and demonstrates how we are descended from seven prehistoric women. Among them: URSULA The oldest of the seven daughters, Ursula lived approximately 45,000 years ago and was one of the first modern humans to set foot in Europe. Her clan began in ancient Greece, and the descendants later spread to France and Great Britian. HELENA The Children of Helena have become the most prodigious of all Seven Daughters. Born on the border of France and Spain, Helena's clan took advantage of the warmth after the final Ice Age and spread throughout Europe. KATRINE An ancestor of the renowned Ice Man found in Italy in 1994, Katrine was born about 15,000 years ago, making her one of the youngest daughters. --- from book's back cover

Reads Like a Thriller?Hard to Put Down

If you are interested in the origin of human genetics, or are just an armchair amateur scientist, you will find this book reads almost like a "thriller." I had trouble putting the book down, and read it in two days. Sykes is one of the cutting-edge geneticists, yet is able to explain all concepts easily and clearly for the layman. As a teacher, I really appreciate this.This book is partly the story of the genetic discoveries, and partly Bryan' story of how those discoveries came about through a series of chances in his life. So there is both science, and human interest. Sykes also explains historical assumptions that other scientists have made, and why those did not work out, previous to the new discoveries. There was only one part of the book I did not enjoy as much, which were the chapters devoted to the hypothetical lives of the various seven "clan-mothers." This part is not science, merely conjecture. However, I can see why he included them-to give a CONCRETE example of how their lives would have existed, and how they were just some of the many women living at that time. However, the other women's mitochondrial DNA, for reasons clearly explained, did not get passed down to Europeans. The book focuses primarily on both the complicated story of European ancestry, and the solution of the previous mystery of South Pacific ancestry. But the best thing about the book is that he winds up by providing a discussion of the ancestry of the whole world, and gives a detailed map about how, where, and when all of those branches came out of Africa-as well as mapping the branches we know from Africa today.

How genetic knowledge is rewriting the prehistory

This is a popular book of scientific discovery written in an affecting and engaging style by a geneticist who has the all too rare gift of writing extremely readable prose.Professor Bryan Sykes draws the reader into his story as easily as a best-selling novelist. And this is just the "science" part of the book which lasts for fourteen chapters. Then come the fictional chapters about the seven daughters and their imagined stories, so touching and so full of the very human struggle to survive in the prehistory that I could not read them without misting up. (But then I tend to the sentimental.)Sykes begins with the story of how he was able to identify a living descendant of the five-thousand year old "ice man" found in northern Italy in 1994 by comparing mitochondrial DNA sequences. Mitochondrial DNA is contained only in egg cells (thus, "Eve" and her daughters), not in sperm cells, and transmitted without recombination so that the changes are all the result of mutations that occur at a predictable rate over time. Then he tells the story of how the bodies of the murdered Romanovs, the last of the Russian Tsarist families, were identified through DNA fingerprinting. Both of these stories are more about media events and ventures in forensics than original scientific work. But then comes the story of where the Pacific Islanders originated.When I was young I read the engaging story of Thor Heyerdahl in his book Kon-Tiki in which he attempted to prove that the Polynesians originated in the Americas by sailing west into the Pacific. This beguiling theory is demolished once and for all by the DNA evidence that Sykes presents. He shows that the Polynesians were originally from Southeast Asia and made all their great ocean discoveries by sailing against the prevailing winds, going east toward the Americas.Sykes notes that because this was the prevailing scientific opinion his work met with mostly agreement. However when he and other geneticists were able to show that the current population of Europe is mainly descended from the original hunters and gathers that lived there prior to the arrival of the farmers who brought agriculture from the Middle East roughly ten thousand years ago, they ran into resistence. The prevailing scientific opinion was that the farmers overwhelmed the hunters and that most of today's Europeans are descended from those farmers. Sykes relates the story of the scientific controversy and how the genetic proof finally prevailed against entrenched opinion. Incidentally, to me the intriguing thing about this discovery is the question, not addressed in the book: What, if any, conclusions can we draw from the fact that 80% of our European genes came from hunters and gathers and only 20% from Middle Eastern farmers?There is also the story of the "Cheddar Man" and how Sykes learned to extract DNA from the bones of people dead tens of thousands of years. Finally there is his argument for all people of European descent coming fro

My mutating mitochondrial grandmother

Genetic research is where all the science headlines are being made. If you are one of the scientists making the headlines - good for you. If you are able to write well, and can make your subject accessible to the layman, and do so with humor, all the better. So it is with Bryan Sykes and THE SEVEN DAUGHTERS OF EVE. This is the sort of book that probably drives equally qualified, but dry-boring-subject and less-literary-talented scientists green with envy. This book is a genuine can't-put-down science thriller. The substantive subject of this book is the genetic ancestry of Europeans, specifically Sykes' contention that 90% of Europeans can trace their maternal ancestry back some tens of thousands of years to one of seven women, the most ancient of which lived 45,000 years ago. In taking us on a trip backwards to meet our great-grandmothers (thousands of times removed) he reveals some very interesting tidbits such as: > The ancient Iceman found in a glacier in the Italian Alps in 1991 was proven to be of European origin, and no hoax. Sykes also made the first of his headlines by stating that Iceman had relatives currently alive and well in England. He produced one of these persons - Marie X - for the press, and was able to prove from his large database of DNA, that there was an "unbroken genetic link between Marie and the Iceman's mother stretching back over 5,000 years and faithfully recorded in the DNA". > Sykes has established almost to a certainty, that the bones found outside Ekaterinburg, Russia, in 1991 are in fact those of Czar Nicholas II and his family. > He also says that Polynesians came from Southeast Asia, rather than from South America. This not only disproves a long held belief, but because this journey is against the prevailing currents and winds, makes them some of history's best sailors. Interesting as they are, these are merely samples of what his DNA work is capable of. The real interest in the book is in his research on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and how its unique characteristics assist in determining ancestry. Mitochondria are organelles within cells that provide energy to the cell; sometimes referred to as "the fire within" they possess their own DNA - mtDNA. Unlike chromosomal DNA, mtDNA is not "mixed" (half from the male and half from the female) during reproduction; mtDNA is passed down from the mother only and passed on unchanged - with one exception - at certain points in time mtDNA mutates. These harmless mutations are not random but occur at specific and infrequent intervals (once every 10,000 years). They are passed down through suceeding generations and act as genetic markers of common ancestry. By looking at differences between mtDNA in living persons (Sykes has a vast collection, and is constantly looking to add to it; readers can send samples to the address provided...or Not!) and comparing it to samples from archaelogical specimens, Sykes is able to trace ancestry. This is what he did in order to come up with b

DNA Blockbuster

This is a profound book about the window to our genealogy that modern DNA has opened. It tells of the seven ancient maternal ancestors of European-based people that have been discovered via DNA research. Written in a very personal style even though the technical detail gets heavy at times. But the implications are fantastic for the human race. In fact, the concept of "race" is blown to bits. A great book to read anywhere, anytime.
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