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

by Bryan Sykes | Science |
ISBN: 0393323145 Global Overview for this book
Registered by synergy of San Antonio, Texas USA on 5/26/2007
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1 journaler for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by synergy from San Antonio, Texas USA on Saturday, May 26, 2007
2007 Book #2 - The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes

Having decided that I hadn't been reading very much science non-fiction, I picked up this book. Although I work in genetics, at one time I did consider getting a minor in one of the "social" sciences like anthropology. This book interested me in that it uses genetics to satisfy a curiosity of where do humans come from in the world and how are we related. From the back of the book:
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 the Ice Man, but even more important, writes "Science News," was his "ability to directly link that DNA to Europeans living today." In this groundbreaking book, Syles reveals how the identification of a particular strand of DNA that passes unbroken through the maternal line allows scientists to trace our genetic makeup all the way back to prehistoric times - to seven primeval women, the "seven daughters of Eve."

I found this all so fascinating. It's written in a popularist style, not getting too technical and only where necessary providing uncomplicated explanations if not explaining would just leave the average person confused and blank. I've not looked, but I'm sure there's some scientists and non-science people out there who scoff at using science to find out about something titled "daughters of Eve" (how Eurocentric! how Christian-centric!), but I think it's things like this that make science interesting to the masses. I'd certainly be interested in finding out where my maternal ancestry originates.

I don't think you can see them in the picture of the book cover, but the central graphic under the title has one of those fertility goddess clay statues surrounded by the names of the seven women: Katrine, Xenia, Jasmine, Velda, Ursula, Tara, and Helena. Earlier in classifying clusters of DNA origins, someone else had just labelled those clusters with letters. The names for the women were chosen to start with the letter of the cluster from which they came.

I did a little legwork and sure enough a company has been set-up by the author of this book, Bryan Sykes, for people to do just that. For the low, low price of £180 (currently about US$357) you can find out to which part of the world your ancestral "daughter of Eve" greatn-grandmother comes from. I think that it helps the scientists keep a public database of people from all over the world, sure, but the public can find out some really neat things, too, about themselves. I do think it's one of those things where "surely you have much better things to spend that much money on", but still... If you're interested, here's the company's website: http://www.oxfordancestors.com/.

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