As most of you know, I recently had my DNA tested and have posted on the topic a few times lately. What can I say, it interests me. Perhaps it's a yearning for the connectedness which I was musing on the other day. Perhaps it just interests me for no particular reason, Frankly, I don't know. What I do know is that I ordered Bryan Sykes book, The Seven Daughters of Eve, and when it arrived from Chapters the other day, I ended up reading it in fairly short order. Much of the book is both an explanation of how DNA forensics works and Sykes' part in developing analyzing the process: the history and the science as it were. At times the book becomes heavily scientific and sometimes quite statistical, but for the most part it is comprehensible to the lay person.
The crux of the study is his analysis of Europe's population, where he and others have deduced that approximately 95% of Europeans exhibit the mitochondrial DNA of just seven clan mothers. Along the way he concludes that all Europeans and in fact all people are modern humans: that is to say, Homo sapiens. For quite a while it was speculated that some Neanderthal genes, for example, might have mixed with ours, but no evidence for this has been found, and it appears that modern humans totally replaced the Neanderthals in Europe and any other earlier forms of humans elsewhere.
The seven European clan mothers, or daughters of Eve, have been given names, at least by Sykes. Ursula, the oldest, is thought to have lived in what is now Greece about 45 000 years ago, and is the mother to 11% of today's Europeans. Jasmine, the youngest, came on the scene, probably in what is now Syria, only about 10 000 years ago; she is clan mother to 17% of Europe's people. In between the two are Helena (southern France, 30 000 years, clan matriarch to 47% of Europe), Xenia ( Caucasus, 25 000 years, 6% ), Velda (the mountains of northern Spain, 17 000 years, 5%), Tara (Tuscany, Italy, 17 000 years, 9%),and Katrine (near Venice, Italy, 15 000 year, 6%). It's plain to see that each of these matriarchs lived at different times and places, but it is their DNA that has been passed on to almost all Europeans today. As far as I can tell from what I know about my readers, one of these seven women is your clan mother.
In turn, all seven of these women can trace their ancestry back to Lara who lived in Africa long before this. While Lara, herself, probably did not leave Africa (as she has descendants there), it is clear that her descendants (carrying her DNA) did. Lara was not Mitochondrial Eve; that woman lived many tens of thousands of years before Lara (about 150 000 years ago), and she is the mother of us all.
Although Sykes' area of endeavor was in Europe, he does mention that worldwide there are thought to be 33 clans, 13 of them being African, which is where we all originated. Africa, with only 13% of the world's population, is home to about 40% of the world's maternal clans. This seems disproportion is simply because Homo sapiens have lived there longer than anywhere else, and therefore, there has been more time for genetic mutations to occur in Africa.
Note: I may go on to talk a little bit more about Jasmine, my clan mother, in another post, but I'm sure this one has been long enough and dry enough to induce great yawns from Texas to Scotland.