A Genealogy of Females

composed by Wolfgang Wiesner

Composition of an individual's genome takes place in the nucleus of a single fertilized human cell. It is related to both of the parents, as both are providing their characteristic DNA patterns. On the contrary, all further parts of a primary cell are inherited from "mother". Now, mitochondrial DNA, known to remain entirely unchanged during the process of fertilization, has been recognized as a means of determining the genealogy of females. Seven historic mothers could thus be predicted by British scientists who were able to prove that many people living in Europe or the Middle East are closely connected by the structure of their mitochondrial DNA.

A recently published book by Bryan Sykes, Oxford professor of genetics, tries to relate modern European populations to their prehistoric ancestors. "The seven daughters of Eve" (as Sykes named his book) even received their nicknames: Ursula, Xenia, Helena, Velda, Tara, Katrine, and Jasmine whose traces can be dated back 8.000 to 45.000 years.

But Sykes isn't the only scientist in that field: Others already discussed the relationship between fossil hominids like the Neandertal man and mitochondrial Eve. Another historic mother, dating back 200.000 years and supposed to originate from Africa, had been identified in a screening of 147 people belonging to 5 geographic populations.

Unfortunately, sufficient data from a worldwide research are not yet available. It might be interesting to encounter one's relatives, scattered all over the world.

xxxxxThe neighbouring picture shows
xxxxxhow mitochondria are fitting into
xxxxxhuman cells. As only a cubic part
xxxxxof the entire cell has been cut out
xxxxxfor demonstration, the nucleus has
xxxxxto be sliced.

The prehistoric statuette of a woman,
discovered in Germany and usually
referred as "Venus von Willendorf"

Another scientific website compiled at Emory University in Atlanta, U.S.A., offers a detailed view on mitochondrial DNA. This site includes a map on world migrations of certain mtDNA strains.

Le généticien Bryan Sykes a publié un livre sous le titre: "Les sept filles d'Eve", paru chez Albin Michel. Cet ouvrage fut récemment cité par L'EXPRESS (14/06/2001) dans un article accessible par l'archive du journal: L'Europe des 7 familles.

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