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Bryan Sykes

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Name  Bryan Sykes
Education  University of Oxford
Role  College Professor
Bryan Sykes oBRIANSYKES570jpg6
Books  The Seven Daughters of Eve: Th, Adam's Curse, Blood of the Isles, Saxons - Vikings - and Celts, The Human Inheritance

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Bryan Sykes (born 9 September 1947) is a Fellow of Wolfson College, and former Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford.


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Sykes published the first report on retrieving DNA from ancient bone (Nature, 1989). Sykes has been involved in a number of high-profile cases dealing with ancient DNA, including that of Cheddar Man. However, the Cheddar Man findings have been disputed and it has been suggested that the results were the consequence of contamination with modern DNA. His work also suggested a Florida accountant by the name of Tom Robinson was a direct descendant of Genghis Khan, a claim that was subsequently disproved.

Bryan Sykes Yeti Could Be 39Prehistoric Giant Polar Bear39 Says

Sykes is best known outside the community of geneticists for his bestselling books on the investigation of human history and prehistory through studies of mitochondrial DNA. He is also the founder of Oxford Ancestors, a genealogical DNA testing firm.

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Bryan sykes what does everyone need to know about genetics

Blood of the Isles

In his 2006 book Blood of the Isles (published in the United States and Canada as Saxons, Vikings and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland), Sykes examines British genetic "clans". He presents evidence from mitochondrial DNA, inherited by both sexes from their mothers, and the Y chromosome, inherited by men from their fathers, for the following points:

  • The genetic makeup of Britain and Ireland is overwhelmingly what it has been since the Neolithic period and to a very considerable extent since the Mesolithic period, especially in the female line, i.e. those people, who in time would become identified as British Celts (culturally speaking), but who (genetically speaking) should more properly be called Cro-Magnon. In continental Europe, this same Cro-Magnon genetic legacy gave rise to the Basques. But "Basque" and "Celt" are cultural designations, not genetic ones.
  • The contribution of the Celts of Central Europe to the genetic makeup of Britain and Ireland was minimal; most of the genetic contribution to the British Isles of those we think of as Celtic, came from western continental Europe, i.e. the Atlantic seaboard.
  • The Picts were not a separate people: the genetic makeup of the formerly Pictish areas of Scotland shows no significant differences from the general profile of the rest of Britain. The two "Pictland" regions are Tayside and Grampian.
  • The Anglo-Saxons are supposed, by some, to have made a substantial contribution to the genetic makeup of England, but in Sykes's opinion it was under 20 percent of the total, even in Southern England.
  • The Vikings (Danes and Norwegians) also made a substantial contribution, which is concentrated in central, northern and eastern England - the territories of the ancient Danelaw. There is a very heavy Viking contribution in the Orkney and Shetland Islands, in the vicinity of 40 percent. Women as well as men contributed substantially in all these areas, showing that the Vikings engaged in large-scale settlement.
  • The Norman contribution was extremely small, on the order of 2 percent.
  • There are only sparse traces of the Roman occupation, almost all in Southern England.
  • In spite of all these later contributions, the genetic makeup of the British Isles remains overwhelmingly what it was in the Neolithic: a mixture of the first Mesolithic inhabitants with Neolithic settlers who came by sea from Iberia and ultimately from the eastern Mediterranean.
  • There is a difference between the genetic histories of men and women in Britain and Ireland. The matrilineages show a mixture of original Mesolithic inhabitants and later Neolithic arrivals from Iberia, whereas the patrilineages are much more strongly correlated with Iberia. This suggests (though Sykes does not emphasize this point) replacement of much of the original male population by new arrivals with a more powerful social organization.
  • There is evidence for a "Genghis Khan effect", whereby some male lineages in ancient times were much more successful than others in leaving large numbers of descendants; e.g. Niall of the Nine Hostages in 4th and 5th century Ireland and Somerled in 12th century Scotland.
  • Some quotations from the book follow. (Note that Sykes uses the terms "Celts" and "Picts" to designate the pre-Roman inhabitants of the Isles who spoke Celtic and does not mean the people known as Celts in central Europe.)

    Japanese clans

    Sykes is currently using the same methods he used in The Seven Daughters of Eve to identify the nine "clan mothers" of Japanese ancestry, "all different from the seven European equivalents."

    Alleged hominid samples

    Dr. Brian Sykes and his team at Oxford University carried out DNA analysis of presumed Yeti samples and thinks the samples may have come from a hybrid species of bear produced from a mating between a brown bear and a polar bear. Sykes told BBC News:

    He conducted another similar survey in 2014, this time examining samples attributed not just to yeti but also to Bigfoot and other "anomalous primates." The study concluded that two of the 30 samples tested most closely resembled the genome of the palaeolithic polar bear, and that the other 28 were from living mammals.

    The samples were subsequently re-analysed by Ceiridwen Edwards and Ross Barnett. They concluded that the mutation that had led to the match with a polar bear was a damage artefact, and suggested that the two hair samples were in fact from Himalayan brown bears (U. arctos isabellinus). These bears are known in Nepal as Dzu-the (a Nepalese term meaning cattle-bear), and have been associated with the myth of the yeti. Sykes and Melton acknowledged that their GenBank search was in error and but suggested that the hairs were instead a match to a modern polar bear specimen "from the Diomede Islands in the Bering Sea reported in the same paper”. They maintained that they did not see any sign of damage in their sequences and commented that they had “no reason to doubt the accuracy of these two sequences any more than the other 28 presented in the paper”. Multiple further analyses, including replication of the single analysis conducted by Sykes and his team, were carried out in a study conducted by Eliecer E. Gutierrez, a researcher at the Smithsonian Institution and Ronald H. Pine, affiliated at the University of Kansas. All of these analyses found that the relevant genetic variation in Brown Bears makes it impossible to assign, with certainty, the Himalayan samples to either that species or to the Polar Bear. Because Brown Bears occur in the Himalayas, Gutierrez and Pine stated that there is no reason to believe that the samples in question came from anything other than ordinary Himalayan Brown Bears


  • Sykes, Bryan (1999), The Human Inheritance: Genes, Language, and Evolution, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-850274-5 
  • Sykes, Bryan (2002), The Seven Daughters of Eve, Corgi, ISBN 0-552-14876-8  (see The Seven Daughters of Eve)
  • Sykes, Bryan (2003), Adam's Curse: A Future Without Men, Bantam, ISBN 0-593-05004-5  (see Adam's Curse)
  • Sykes, Bryan (2006), Blood of the Isles: Exploring the Genetic Roots of Our Tribal History, Bantam, ISBN 0-593-05652-3 
  • Sykes, Bryan (2011), DNA USA: A Genetic Biography of America, W. W. Norton & Company, ISBN 978-0-393-07804-6 
  • Sykes, Bryan (2015), The Nature of the Beast, Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 978-1-444-79126-6 
  • References

    Bryan Sykes Wikipedia