The Seven Daughters of Eve Bryan Sykes W. W. Norton & Company, New York; 2001. 306 pp. $25.95, hardback. ISBN 0–393–02018–5
E Hagelberg1 – Evolutionary biologist – Department of Biology, University of Oslo
This book is clearly aimed at the punter. It may also interest students of the public understanding of science, particularly human genetics and evolution, as it deals with the types of questions about human origins and human history that fascinate the general public. Where do we come from? How are we related to each other? Are we descended from the Neanderthals? Are we connected genetically to some king or queen or other notable person? The style is lively and the book contains many anecdotes of the author’s exploits in the field of human genetics, which could appeal to lay people mystified or alienated by some of the activities of geneticists currently portrayed in the news media.
The title of the book refers to its last section, which draws on recent research in various universities using the maternally transmitted mitochondrial DNA, on the classification of living humans into maternal lineages characterized by specific shared mutations. In a paper published several years ago, Sykes and his coauthors postulated the existence of seven major mitochondrial lineages, or haplotypes, in Europe, although the number has been revised several times.