Sykes began this work long before modern methods of whole-genome DNA sequencing were available. When, in the late 1980s, he and colleagues at Oxford’s Research Laboratory for Archaeology first extracted DNA from bones up to 12,000 years old, they opted to focus on mtDNA.
Although eventually, many of Bryan’s early theories were disproven, his work provided a foundation on which future discoveries were built and the field evolved. All scientists, especially early innovators must be willing to be “wrong” and have their work improved upon. It is part of the deal and does not take away from Bryan’s legacy of innovation and inspiration.
He wrote the Seven Daughters of Eve, anticipating people’s desire to know which “tribe” they belonged to, the same year set up the first direct-to-consumer genetic testing company, Oxford Ancestors, as an Oxford University spinout. Lighting the fire of public interest in finding out who and where they came from.
Ironically, Sykes never named or described haplogroup L or subclades, the true mother lineages in Africa, nor haplogroups M or N, daughters of haplogroup L3 from which all other non-L haplogroups spring.