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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 (oxfordancestors.com), 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.
Founder of a new branch of genetics, Sykes explains the discovery that everyone of European heritage is descended from just seven prehistoric women. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"A traveler from an antique land... lives within us all," claims Sykes, a professor of genetics at Oxford. This unique traveler is mitochondrial DNA, and, as this provocative account illustrates, it can help scientists and archeologists piece together the history of the human race. Mitochondrial DNA is present in every cell in the body, and it remains virtually unchanged (aside from random mutations) as it passes from mother to daughter. By quantifying and analyzing the mutations of this relatively stable circle of DNA, Sykes has solved some of the hottest debates about human origins. For example, he clarified a long-running debate among anthropologists over the original inhabitants of the Cook Islands. After retrieving mitochondrial DNA samples from the island natives, Sykes concluded that the natives emigrated from Asia, not America, as many Western anthropologists had contended. In a similar manner, Sykes analyzed samples from native Europeans to determine that modern humans are not at all related to Neanderthals. The book's most complex and controversial find that the ancient European hunter-gatherers predominated over the farmers and not vice versa leads Sykes to another stunning conclusion: by chance, nearly all modern Europeans are descendants of one of seven "clan mothers" who lived at different times during the Ice Age. Drawing upon archeological and climatic records, Sykes spins seven informative and gracefully imagined tales of how these "daughters of Eve" eked out a living on the frozen plains. (July 9) Forecast: Sykes is a bit of a celebrity geneticist, as he was involved in identifying the remains of the last Romanovs. This fame, plus his startling conclusions augmented by a five-city tour should generate publicity and sales among science, archeology and genealogy buffs. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"Sykes has solved some of the hottest debates about human origins." -- Publishers Weekly "A natural storyteller, [Sykes] relates the history of developing genetics up to contemporary times as the DNA of genes is decoded.... A riveting account showing how archeological evidence and molecular biology findings complement one another in the challenge to unearth our past and our beginnings." -- Choice "Scientifically accurate and understandable to the layperson.... [The Seven Daughters of Eve] will be recognized as an important work, bringing molecular anthropology to a mass audience." -- Nature "Sykes recounts his tale of discovery with the drama it warrants...gripping." -- New York Times Book Review "A lovely, rollicking book, direct and clear.... [A] fascinating glimpse into anthropology in the era of the genome." -- Wall Street Journal