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The Seven Daughters of Eve

 

I received this book as a gift. I enjoyed it.  The author gives a personal account of his deep and continuous involvement in the development  of methodology to extract, analyse and interpret mitochondrial DNA. We inherit our mitochondrial DNA from our mother.  This tool is applied to understand our genetic ancestry.

The author explains the reliable, stable and reproducible nature of mitochondrial DNA. The collaborative and adversarial/argumentative nature of scientific progress. Mitochondrial DNA analysis stood the intense scrutiny and served as valuable insight. Ultimately, through a journey including exploration of the Last Tsar of Russia, the Pacific Islands, Cheddar Man the author weaves together a complex story of the genetic network/lineage of Europe and forays into the connecting the world.

The majority (95%) modern Europeans have descending from seven clan mothers. Mitochondrial DNA can be used as a molecular clock to determine the age of these ancestors. The author provides fictional vignettes  of the seven daughters of eve integrating archaeological and  geological details relevant to the estimated time.  This was interesting but I did not find it as compelling as the discussion of the scientific methodology: its development, the criticisms and the response. The discussion of the science was clear, The discussion of the exploration of the Y chromosome (SRY gene) in supporting the mitochondrial evidence was well written.

This was an enjoyable book and provided a window into our ancestors and how connected we are.

 

 

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Categories: books
  1. September 16, 2013 at 4:22 pm
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