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Deep Ancestry: The Landmark DNA Quest to Decipher Our Distant Past [Kindle Edition]

Spencer Wells
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From Booklist

The study of human prehistory has been revolutionized by genetic evidence. Here a leading researcher in genetic anthropology surveys the specialty. He warns that its promise could go unrealized because contemporary mobility is reshuffling the human genome, obscuring the DNA details by which experts can trace the geographic ancestry of contemporary ethnic groups. To rescue genetic information, Wells heads National Geographic Society's Genographic Project, which collects and analyzes DNA from volunteers to create a database of the human genome as it was before the Industrial Revolution. He relays the personal stories and ethnic lineage of five such volunteers while explaining both the DNA markers and the logic by which he and his colleagues can reliably place and date a person's ancestry. Even at this early stage, genomic discoveries about ancient migrations are astounding, and the potential of the NGS project to continue them is apparent from the open questions Wells poses in his epilogue. An informative and exciting picture of science in the making. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Pressestimmen

"In this concise and well-written work, Wells (The Journey of Man) provides an accessible introduction to genetic anthropology, the study of human history using genetic evidence. It is a remarkable journey that will appeal to readers of all backgrounds interested in exploring the science and research behind human evolution." —Publishers Weekly

"Wells ends the book with an invitation to take part in the project... This is a rare chance to not only learn about ourselves, but to contribute in a worldwide scientific experiment." —Bookpage


From the Trade Paperback edition.

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5.0 von 5 Sternen Happiness is knowing your haplotype 4. Januar 2007
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The human diaspora from Africa that populated the world has been the subject of several recent studies. At first, these books were bulwarks against the tide of "Multi-regionalism" - the idea that an early version of our ancestral species evolved into Homo sapiens at different times and places. Genetic research, including that of the author, has shown that we're all descended from a small African population. Placing our origins on one continent simplifies the task of analysis of tracking our movements. In this book, Wells explains how the examination works and what it reveals of our ancestry.

The tool is "markers" on the genome. For females it was the DNA in mitochondria, the cell's "powerhouse". For males, it is changes on the Y chromosome, that molecular structure triggering a shift from the default embryo condition. The author demonstrates how these indicators are detected and how they allow us to track our ancestry back in time. The markers designate genetic "borders" between groups of people who share a common ancestor in the deep past. The groups are called "haplotypes" - for which Wells, at least in the case of Europe, uses the term "clan". There are seven of these clans - designated by letter labels such as "R", "J" or "N" - descended from male originators. The approach is reminiscent of Bryan Sykes "Seven Daughters of Eve" [2001], except Wells follows the male lineage where Sykes used mitochondrial DNA to source female origins. Both authors focus on the European records as being more complete and readily available. Wells also finds but five female lines as opposed to Sykes' seven.

Wells discusses how genetic "clocks" can postulate a rate of mutation over a long span of time to roughly determine the age of the haplogroup.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen Tief ist der Brunnen der Geschichte 21. Oktober 2011
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
Dr.Wells wissenschaftliche Väter- die Genetiker R.Lewontin in Havard und Luigi L.Cavalli-Sforza,Stanfort University-gehören zur Elite heutiger Populationsgenetiker, die die Geschichte der Menschheit neu geschrieben haben.
Wissenschaftlicher Weitblick fürs Wesentliche,schrifttellerisches Geschick und die filmische Umsetzung der Entwicklungsreise des modernen Menschen von Afrika in alle Welt mit "The Journey of Man-A Genetic Odysssey" profilierten Dr.Wells als Initiator& Direktor des "Genographic Project" der National Geographic Society, mit dem er eine raum-zeitliche genetische Exploration der Menschheit anstrebt.
Darauf aufbauend zeigt er in "Deep Ancestry" mit 5 exemplarischen genetischen Vorfahrenreihen heutiger Menschen, welch ferne Zeiten und Räume unsere "Genetische Uhr" erhellt. Anschauliche Abbildungen über geographisch-historische Verteilungen der genetischen Stammbäume geben gute Vorstellungen von ihren Wegen in alle Welt, seit sie vor 100 000 Jahren Afrika verließen. Aufschlußreich ist der Appendix mit Charakterisierung der Haplogruppen- der durch Mutationen gekennzeichneten Genmarker. Die methodischen und statistischen Probleme multizentrischer Genanalysen hat Dr.Wells in dem populärwissenschaftlichen Werk vorteilhaft ausgeblendet. Das Buch wird nachdrücklich für historisch interessierte Leser empfohlen.
J.E.G. birsina 21.10.2011
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Amazon.com: 3.9 von 5 Sternen  91 Rezensionen
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5.0 von 5 Sternen We've got history in our genes 23. Dezember 2006
Von Emil B - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
What a marvellous little book! I was taken by surprise so many times during my reading, whenever I thought I knew what the author is about at the beginning of many of his stories. In a way, this is like a crime fiction book written by a clever writer that catches you off guard and it reveals the killer only at the last page. The writing style is deceivingly simple; Spencer gets over the scientific details of genetics in a few paragraphs where he tells you in plain English everything you need to know to understand this book. The book then flows smoothly and he managed to make it so easy for you to follow the main ideas and try to decipher what is probably the greatest puzzle of all: the origins of human race. You will have a few surprises.

You might have seen the National Geographic documentary "The Journey of Man". Its author is none other than same Spence Wells. He is only 37 years old, and very, very bright. I have to emphasize again the writing style: very simple, yet it explains clearly complex concepts. He talks science, yet he is humorous and light. He uses sometimes numbers and probabilities, but the book is in general built around stories of five people chosen to represent the main haplogroups (families or a clans of people that share the same genetic properties transmitted over many generations) in the history of mankind. Spencer Wells is currently a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and the director of Genographic Project. It is a great and fascinating role he is playing. The goal of this project is to collect about 100,000 genetic samples from people around the world that live in still pristine conditions: that is they live in the same area their families lived for a long time. This information is stored in a database and by applying sophisticated algorithms; we should be able to determine how we have evolved in time, how we migrated and how we came to become the people of today. I was a little bit sceptical about this entire concept, but the book convinced me. You will have to read it to understand what really means. It is a powerful idea.

The book is based on five stories told people with very different backgrounds. Each story will astound you. You will also have a better understanding of what genetic archaeology is. If you are familiar with DNA, it will make even more sense to you. The DNA is seen more and more like a cryptic library that holds many secrets about our evolution. Segments of code will reveal relationships never thought possible. This book does not go that much in detail, but it does tell you the story in a nicely narrated style that takes you step by step through the various haplogroups patterns, like a detective, and come up with unexpected conclusions.

In the end you will see why scientists believe that the Adam and Eve, the original parents of all the people that populated this planet today, lived around 60,000 years ago in Africa. If you take the time to think about it, you realise how amazing this is. In 2,000 generations we evolved from an ape like humanoid to the generation of the Internet. The book will take you through the Ice Age, the disappearance of Neanderthal, the conquest of Asia, the mystery of Australian Aborigines, invasion of Americas and many other adventures. Back to Africa, you will get to know how genetically diverse this continent is. Did you know that two of the oldest haplogroups (tribes) still live in Africa today and probably they speak the oldest language, perhaps the first languages? These people speak the so-called click languages that are more sophisticated in the variety of sounds than our modern languages.

The book has also information about how to purchase a Genographic Project Public Participation Kit. For $99.95 you can get that kit, collect your DNA sample and send it to the project office. The results are kept confidentially in the project database and you will have secure access to your DNA profile. You can find more details at [...]

I recommend this book to anyone curious about genetics, genealogy, history, evolution and genetic archaeology.
90 von 94 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Happiness is knowing your haplotype 4. Januar 2007
Von Stephen A. Haines - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
The human diaspora from Africa that populated the world has been the subject of several recent studies. At first, these books were bulwarks against the tide of "Multi-regionalism" - the idea that an early version of our ancestral species evolved into Homo sapiens at different times and places. Genetic research, including that of the author, has shown that we're all descended from a small African population. Placing our origins on one continent simplifies the task of analysis of tracking our movements. In this book, Wells explains how the examination works and what it reveals of our ancestry.

The tool is "markers" on the genome. For females it was the DNA in mitochondria, the cell's "powerhouse". For males, it is changes on the Y chromosome, that molecular structure triggering a shift from the default embryo condition. The author demonstrates how these indicators are detected and how they allow us to track our ancestry back in time. The markers designate genetic "borders" between groups of people who share a common ancestor in the deep past. The groups are called "haplotypes" - for which Wells, at least in the case of Europe, uses the term "clan". There are seven of these clans - designated by letter labels such as "R", "J" or "N" - descended from male originators. The approach is reminiscent of Bryan Sykes "Seven Daughters of Eve" [2001], except Wells follows the male lineage where Sykes used mitochondrial DNA to source female origins. Both authors focus on the European records as being more complete and readily available. Wells also finds but five female lines as opposed to Sykes' seven.

Wells discusses how genetic "clocks" can postulate a rate of mutation over a long span of time to roughly determine the age of the haplogroup. Much of this assessment is sustained by archaeological record. The procedures pinpoint his own grandmother's ancestry, which is ostensibly Danish, to origins in the Middle East, some ten thousand years ago at the beginning of the adoption of agriculture. The shift to the Middle East leads Wells to examine people living today with roots in far corners of the world. One notable example is "Phil", whose Native American background becomes the start of a study of Siberian people. There have been many disputes about the origins of the Western Hemisphere's human settlers. Wells travelled to the Asian North to recover genetic data. The information clearly defines the link between Indian populations here and their ancestry in Eastern Asia.

Wells puts some effort into explaining how DNA works, what counts as a "mutation" and how these changes can be tracked down the generations. With enough samples from living populations in historically stable circumstances, he can provide maps of the distribution of the haplogroups and frequency of the haplotype in a given area. Ireland, for example, is populated almost exclusively by a single haplotype. He explains that The Genographic Project he heads is keen to collect more data, both to refine the European and Native American data, but to enlarge the information from other parts of the world. Clearly, this is a book "in progress", but stands firmly as a good basis for understanding the foundations of such research and its enlargement of knowledge of humanity. Although he states this book is "less technical" than his "The Journey of Man", there is sufficient information on how the data collection and analysis is undertaken to make the book readable and interesting to everybody. [stephen a. haines - Ottawa, Canada]
81 von 84 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Great ongoing story, but too similar to previous book 7. August 2007
Von Keith McCormick - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
If you have read The Journey of Man: A Genetic Odyssey, you may find this book a bit of a let down. It is not that it is badly written, nor is the story uninteresting. It is just that the narrative has not advanced enough since the last book. There are some interesting additions, but a lot of repeat information. I would start with the DVD Journey of Man. After that you could read either book, but I recall enjoying Journey of Man better. Having said that, I will be looking for the next one because the research is fascinating.
34 von 37 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen 3.5 stars: "the ultimate family gathering" 6. Mai 2007
Von John L Murphy - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Compared to Wells' earlier "Journey of Man" and Bryan Sykes' "Seven Daughters of Eve" and "Saxons, Vikings & Celts," (all three also reviewed by me on Amazon), this is considerably briefer, compressing the genetic information of both mDNA (female-transmitted) and Y-chromosome (male markers) lineages into 250 pp. including a long appendix listing all of the major profiles. Contrasted to the colorfully organized information on the National Geographic Society's "Genographic Project" online site, these appendices largely duplicate the same material in somber typeface. But, having it in book form combined with the previous 175 pp. of text, this makes a concise primer for public and home libraries that, even in our web-dependent age (as you and I know as we read this post!), still need print backup and expansion of material that on the web, as on the NGS site, must be too diffused and remains a bit unwieldy for easy cross-referencing and browsing.

The maps here tend to comment silently upon the material Wells discusses. Unfortunately, Wells more often than not fails to tie his sober, but not altogether dry, text tightly enough to the graphics. You look at the charts and can figure them out, sure, but if the author had taken greater effort in being more explicit, e.g. "see figure 6, where the so-and-so can be seen ranging across the this-and-that at such-and-such a rate," the integration of print and visuals would have enhanced the combined presentation of what can be challenging material for the layperson.

Wells, identified in the author's endnote as a "child prodigy," is ideally placed to write such an introduction to our "encapsulated history," but this efficiently summarized book does feel (as another reviewer commented) as a work in progress. Part of this sensation that much more is going on beneath what can be easily paraphrased for not-specialists may be that the popularization of whats going on in labs now may lag a couple of years behind what only a few experts (Sykes, Oppenheimer, and Wells himself along with possibly Luigi Cavalli-Sforza on a very short list) have the ability to translate findings derived from massive amounts of extraordinarily complex raw material into understandable prose aimed at the general reader.

Bits buried in the appendices demand whole books of their own. I look forward to future volumes about these issues....Half of Ashkenazi Jews can trace their line to four women, and three of those from one "K" group and another "N1." 10-20 people crossed the Bering Strait's landbridge to engender as "Q3" most Native Americans. Click languages may have been the earliest forms of speech. Berbers in North Africa and the Saami ("Lapps") near the Arctic Circle share roots. A non-Asian "X" haplotype is one of the five present among Native American populations; "X2" came not through Siberia but from Western Eurasia. (I wanted to know how this fit into the Kennewick Man controversy, but Wells seems to edge away from debate.) Hitting the Pamir Knot of three mountain ranges connected in Central Asia split up a formerly cohesive Eurasian clan into three main groups as they could no longer move east across that continent's Eastern France-to Korea "superhighway."

Seeing that Sykes has fired off two recent books aimed at the same audience, and that Stephen Oppenheimer also of Oxford (where Sykes taught too) has "The Real Eve" and the new "Origins of the British" in the past few years, now Wells has two. They-- each author having a book around 2002-4 and a second book within the past year) overlap in data and approach, but Oppenheimer appears the most academically dry, Sykes the most eagerly imaginative, and Wells takes the middle ground. No imagined scenarios (unlike Sykes, who by the way has a competing project to gather DNA data) for our NGS leader, but Wells does try with various individuals to make his chosen representatives from today's genetic lines come alive a bit with their own encounters with the data that the NGS finds.

But even this attempt at connecting the world of the test tube with that of those people we pass every day is not carried through enough. The relatively brief amount of discussion given, say, the African American "Odine" who shares Thomas Jefferson's own very rare if not unique genetic marker proves a letdown. Wells builds up the case with flair, but we fail to find enough by that chapter's end to understand exactly where the 3rd President got his genetic marker from and how its rarity in England points to a rather exotic lineage not only for Odine today but any descendant of the Jefferson clan.

In summary, the appendices and a well-chosen short list of suggested books and websites both anthropological and genealogical make this a useful source for beginners wanting a deeper look at their deep ancestry than the NGS site can provide, but not so technical as to bewilder the reader. In passing, Wells is surprisingly reticent about recruiting for the NGS project in his text, but there is an advertisement on the book's final page with information for those who wish to contribute. The NGS by the way uses the funds raised from volunteers here towards a Genographic Legacy Fund that gathers data for free from indigenous and traditional communities, so it's a worthwhile cause.

I would have liked to know more about how, if Wells studied with Luigi Cavalli-Sforza for his doctoral work at Stanford, or if Wells presumably worked alongside geneticists Oppenheimer and Sykes at Oxford, how his own project and conceptualization of how the DNA research could be used differed from his eminent mentors. (As an aside, Sykes in his recent "Saxons" book never mentions Oppenheimer who I assume is just down the hall from him at Oxford!) Cavalli-Sforza with his HGDP and Sykes with his company Oxford Ancestors appear to have slightly divergent goals from the NGS study, and I remain a bit unclear about where the three DNA-gathering enterprises cooperate or whether they are all amassing their data separately. Wells hints a bit about HGDP, but does not mention Sykes' company. I suspect that the whole scientific and enterprenuerial venture's combined story here may have to wait another half-century, when an elderly Wells (he's well under 40 now!) composes his memoirs.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen A Well Written Introduction To An Important Topic 11. Dezember 2006
Von John D. Cofield - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
The Genographic Project is an ambitious attempt to analyze the DNA records of human beings from around the world. As a participant in the Project, I already knew a bit about the basic levels of DNA research and its applications. Deep Ancestry provides a good grounding for people like me who understand a bit and want to know more about the subject, and also for those who have not yet become involved.

Spencer Wells writes well and has a gift for using personal vignettes to illustrate important points. This is especially useful in describing a field as unfamiliar as DNA research for most people. Many who read Deep Ancestry will be inspired to delve deeper, in which case I would recommend other works by Wells and also those of Bryan Sykes.
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