Bryan Sykes Adam's Curse

ISBN 13: 9780593050040

Adam's Curse

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9780593050040: Adam's Curse
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Genetically speaking, the big difference between men and women is that where women have two X chromosomes, men have one X and one Y. It is surprising that one chromosome difference out of our total of 26 can have such an important consequence, but it does. Is this relatively small genetic variance really sufficient to explain the differences between the sexes, not just the physical but the psychological, social, even cultural? Drawing on his own work at the forefront of modern genetics and the exciting theories of evolutionary biology, Bryan Sykes takes us on a fascinating exploration into the science of sex and gender, and takes a scientific look at what makes men tick. From the most basic questions - why are there only two sexes in humans? Why is there sex at all? - to an examination of maleness - is there a genetic cause for men's promiscuity? Is there such a thing as the male homosexual gene? Can science offer an explanation for the rise of patriarchal society? Sykes's conclusions will surprise some people and are bound to cause controversy. His own research has shown that the all-important male Y chromosome is getting smaller. As the generations pass the female X chromosome is taking over. It is cannibalising parts of the Y chromosome. Women are winning the evolutionary battle of the sexes. His conclusion is that men, slowly but surely, are headed for extinction.

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Review:

Bryan Sykes follows up The Seven Daughters of Eve with the equally challenging and well-written Adam's Curse. This time, instead of following humanity's heritage back to the first women, Sykes looks forward to a possible future without men. The seeds of the book's topics were sown when Sykes met a pre-eminent pharmaceutical company chairman who shared his surname. Using the Y chromosome, which is passed nearly unchanged from father to son, the author found that he shared a distant ancestor with the other Sykes. Along the way, he discovered that the Y chromosome was worth examining more closely. The first third of Adam's Curse is devoted to a clear and comprehensive lesson about genetics, the second narrates several fascinating stories of tracing ancestry via the Y chromosome, and the last chapters explore the history of male humanity and its future. Some readers will eagerly skim until they reach Chapter 21, where Sykes gets to the heart of the matter--why and how the Y chromosome has created a world where men overwhelmingly own the wealth and power, commit the crimes, and fight the wars. He uses the structural puniness of the Y chromosome to demonstrate that men are as unnecessary biologically as they are dominant socially. Sykes' provocative and quite personal book is likely to be unpopular among science readers who prefer their biology divorced from sociology, but his points taken in context will be difficult to refute. --Therese Littleton

About the Author:

Bryan Sykes, Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford, has had a remarkable scientific career in genetics. After undertaking medical research into the causes of inherited bone disease, he set out to discover if DNA, the genetic material, could possibly survive in ancient bones. It did and he was the first report on the recovery of ancient DNA from archaeological bone in the journal "Nature" in 1989. Since then Professor Sykes has been called in as the leading international authority to examine several high profile cases, such as the Ice Man, Cheddar Man and the many individuals claiming to be surviving members of the Russian Royal Family. Alongside this, he and his research team have over the last ten years compiled by far the most complete DNA family tree of our species yet seen. He has always emphasised the importance of the individual in shaping our genetic world. The website www.oxfordancestors.com offers people the chance to find out for themselves, from a DNA sample, where they fit in. As well as a scientist, Bryan Sykes has been a television news reporter and a parliamentary science adviser. He is the author of The Seven Daughters of Eve.

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