’Superb and stimulating...an exhilarating trip around the double spiral of DNA, a rush of gravity-defying concepts and wild swerves of the scientific imagination.’ J.G. Ballard, Daily Telegraph
’Not so much divination as demystification... An attempt to bring genetics and evolution more into the public domain. If, for instance, you ever wondered just what genetic engineering is about, here is as good a place as any to discover. Few have Jones’s ability to communicate a difficult idea with such humour, clarity, precision and ease.’ Laurence Hurst, Times Higher
‘Sensitive to the social issues raised by genetics... yet Jones’s interest reaches beyond contemporary social issues to the human past, to what genetics can and cannot tell us about our evolution and patterns of social development. He interleaves a broad knowledge of biology with considerations of cultural, demographic and – as his title indicates – linguistic history. At once instructive and captivating.’ Daniel J.Kevles, London Review of Books
The reader is taken through ten mathematical derivations that lead to important results, explaining in a hands-on manner the key concepts and methods of theoretical population genetics. The derivations are carefully worked out and easy to follow. Particular attention is given to the underlying assumptions and the mathematics used. The results are discussed and broadened out with relevant current implications. All topics feature questions with helpful answers.
The book is intended for the reader who already knows some population genetics but requires a more comprehensive understanding. It is particularly suited to those who analyse genetic data and wish to better grasp what their results actually mean. It will also be helpful for those who wish to understand how population genetics contributes to the explanation of evolution. Or as the writers claim: If one wants to understand life – in all its improbable and amazing richness – one must start by understanding population genetics.
Originally published in 1984.
The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.
In 1994 Bryan Sykes was called in as an expert to examine the frozen remains of a man trapped in glacial ice in northern Italy for over 5000 years—the Ice Man. Sykes succeeded in extracting DNA from the Ice Man, but even more important, writes Science News, was his "ability to directly link that DNA to Europeans living today." In this groundbreaking book, Sykes reveals how the identification of a particular strand of DNA that passes unbroken through the maternal line allows scientists to trace our genetic makeup all the way back to prehistoric times—to seven primeval women, the "seven daughters of Eve."
Using blood testing as well as church records, the team investigated the frequency of consanguineous marriages and its use for estimating inbreeding and studying the relations between inbreeding and drift. They tested the importance of random genetic drift by studying population structure through demography of the last three centuries, using it to predict the spatial variation of frequencies of genetic markers. The authors find that drift-related genetic variation, including its stabilization by migration, is best predicted by computer simulation. They also analyze the usefulness and limits of the concept of deme for defining Mendelian populations. The genetic effect of consanguineous marriage on recessive genetic diseases and for the detection of dominance in metric characters are also studied.
Ultimately bringing together the many strands of their massive project, Cavalli-Sforza, Moroni, and Zei are able to map genetic drift in all of Italy's approximately 8,000 communes and to demonstrate the relationship between each locality's drift and various ecological and demographic factors. In terms of both methods and findings, their accomplishment is tremendously important for understanding human social structure and the genetic effects of drift and inbreeding.