The Seven Daughters of Eve

The Seven Daughters of Eve

Book - 2001
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One of the most dramatic stories of genetic discovery since James Watson's The Double Helix--a work whose scientific and cultural reverberations will be discussed for years to come. In 1994 Professor Bryan Sykes, a leading world authority on DNA and human evolution, was called in to examine the frozen remains of a man trapped in glacial ice in northern Italy. News of both the Ice Man's discovery and his age, which was put at over five thousand years, fascinated scientists and newspapers throughout the world. But what made Sykes's story particularly revelatory was his successful identification of a genetic descendant of the Ice Man, a woman living in Great Britain today. How was Sykes able to locate a living relative of a man who died thousands of years ago? In The Seven Daughters of Eve, he gives us a firsthand account of his research into a remarkable gene, which passes undiluted from generation to generation through the maternal line. After plotting thousands of DNA sequences from all over the world, Sykes found that they clustered around a handful of distinct groups. Among Europeans and North American Caucasians, there are, in fact, only seven. This conclusion was staggering: almost everyone of native European descent, wherever they may live throughout the world, can trace their ancestry back to one of seven women, the Seven Daughters of Eve. Naming them Ursula, Xenia, Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine, and Jasmine, Sykes has created portraits of their disparate worlds by mapping the migratory patterns followed by millions of their ancestors. In reading the stories of these seven women, we learn exactly how our origins can be traced, how and where our ancient genetic ancestors lived, and how we are each living proof of the almost indestructible strands of DNA, which have survived over so many thousands of years. Indeed, The Seven Daughters of Eve is filled with dramatic stories: from Sykes's identification, using DNA samples from two living relatives, of the remains of Tsar Nicholas and Tsaress Alexandra, to the Caribbean woman whose family had been sold into slavery centuries before and whose ancestry Sykes was able to trace back to the Eastern coast of central Africa. Ultimately, Sykes's investigation reveals that, as a race, what humans have in common is more deeply embedded than what separates us.
Publisher: New York : Norton, 2001.
Edition: First American edition
ISBN: 9780393020182
0393020185
Branch Call Number: 599.935 Syk 3701 1
Characteristics: x, 306 pages : illustrations

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p
pullenjenna
Nov 14, 2017

I loved this book - took a complex topic like genetics and broke it down into language all of us can connect with. Though there were a few terms and genetic details that caused me to have to look into it all a bit further, it's a great read about a very interesting topic. I am always on the search for books like this - topics beyond my expertise, written for my consumption!

m
msw44
Jun 04, 2015

Informative and neat.

c
CMcC
Apr 07, 2013

The subject of DNA and our past sounds scientific and heavy but the author who did the science is also a great popular writer. He made the science reasonably understandable while using great anecdotes about the research work to make you feel you were at least a fly on the wall. And to read the conclusion that somewhere in the not too distant past there was one woman who was our mother. Who would have thought of that :-)

d
doroschelch
Jul 22, 2012

Fascinating account of the history of DNA tracking all the way back to the seven women every European is related to genetically. Bryan Sykes manages to write about seemingly dry and boring scientific details in a way that you think you are reading a thriller!

r
RonNasty64
Apr 15, 2010

What a remarkable book. Who would have thought that a book about mitochondrial DNA would be a real page burner? Mitochondrial DNA is scientific proof of the bond not just between mother and child but all mothers to all their grand children. This will eventually be the new Heraldry.

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msw44
Jun 04, 2015

Polynesians came from SE Asia, not from South America. Neolithic Farmers did not displace Europeans; for the most part, the ideas of the Agricultural Revolution spread
to the people already living in Europe and the native populations grew as a result.
About 17% of European mtDNA does come from Neolithic farmers who moved in.

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RonNasty64
Apr 15, 2010

By the time I had planned the return trip, and persuaded the Royal Society to pay for it -- after all, they had paid for Cook's first voyage to Tahiti, as I pointed out in my application.

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