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

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W. W. Norton & Company, Dec 20, 2010 - Social Science - 320 pages
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The national bestseller that reveals how we are descended from seven prehistoric women.

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, Sykes 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."


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Book is a real ego trip on part of the author. It is too full of worthless informatiion on the authors life story rather than pertinent genetic info. Pass on it! Read full review

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From the Seven Daughters of Eve, a story of the genetic inheritance of blood lines around the world
page 39;
"Looking through the lens presented in this book, I could see that when she became more
dependent on her husband, he felt secure, because she wasn't likely to get away. He then let his Pretend Person, dream woman, drift into her, so to speak."
Page 39: " As well as being instrumental in getting Arthur Mourant a job, the Rhesus blood groups were also about to play a central role in what people were thinking about the origins of modern Europeans and in identifying the continent's most influential genetic population - the fiercely independent Basques of north-west Spain and south-west France. The Basques are unified by their common language, Euskara, which is unique in Europe in that it has no linguistic connection with any other living language. That is survives at all in the face of its modern rivals, Castilian Spanish and French, is remarkable enough. but two thousand years ago, it was only the disruption of imperial Roman administration in that part of the empire that saved Euskara from being completely swamped by Latin, which was the fate of the now extinct Iberian language in eastern Spain and south-east France. The Basques provided us with another invaluable clue to the genetic history of the whole of Europe, as we shall see later in the book, but their elevation to special genetic status only began when Arthur Mourant stated to look closely Rhesus blood groups."
Pages 41-43
"To Mourant, this was a signal that the population of Europe was a mixture that had not yet had time to settle down and eliminate one of other of the Rhesus types. His explanation was that modern Europe might be a relatively recent hybrid population of Rhesus positive arrivals from the Near East, probably the people who brought farming into Europe beginning about eight thousand years ago, and the descendants of an earlier Rhesus negative hunter-gathering people. but who were the Rhesus negatives?
Mourant came across the work of the French anthropologist H.V. Vallois, who described features of the skeletons of contemporary Basques as having more in common with fossil humans from about twenty thousand year ago than with modern people from other parts of Europe. Thought this kind of comparison has since fallen into disrepute, it certainly catalysed Mourant's thinking. It was already known that Basques had by far the lowest frequency of blood group B of all the population groups in Europe. Could they be the ancient reservoir of Rhesus negative as well. In 1947 Mourant arranged to meet with two Basques who were in London attempting to form a provisional government and were keen to support any attempts to provide their genetic uniqueness. Like most Basques, they were supporter of the French Resistance and totally opposed to fascist Franc regime i Spain. both men provided blood samples and both were rhesus negative. Through these contacts, Mourant typed a panel of French and Spanish Basques who turned out, as he had hoped, to have a very high frequency of Rhesus negatives, in fact the highest in the world. Mourant concluded from this that Basques were descended from the original inhabitants of Europe, whereas all other Europeans were a mixture of originals and more recent arrivals, which he thought were the first farmers, from the Near East.
From that moment, the Basques assumed the status of the population against which all ideas about European genetic pre-history were to be - and to a large extent still are - judged. The fact that they alone of all the west Europeans spoke a language which was unique in Europe, and did not belong to the Indo-European family which embraces all other languages of western Europe, only enhanced their special position.
The next leap forward came from the mathematical amalgamation of the vast amount of data that had accumulated from decades of research on individual systems like the different blood groups. This was accomplished by the man who had dominated the field for


Icemans Relative Found in Dorset
So What is DNA and What Does It Do?
From Blood Groups to Genes
The Special Messenger
The Tsar and I
The Puzzle of the Pacific
The Greatest Voyagers
Adam Joins the Party
The Seven Daughters

The First Europeans
The Last of the Neanderthals
Hunters and Farmers
We Are Not Amused
Cheddar Man Speaks
The World
A Sense of Self

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About the author (2010)

Bryan Sykes, professor of human genetics at Oxford University, pioneered the use of DNA in exploring the human past. He is also the founder and chairman of Oxford Ancestors (, which helps individuals explore their genetic roots using DNA. He is the author of Saxons, Vikings, and Celts; The Seven Daughters of Eve, a New York Times bestseller; and Adam’s Curse.

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