According to geneticist Bryan Sykes, of Oxford University, we are all descended from one of 33 ancient Eves. If you take a swab from your cheek and send it in to a laboratory, you can tell which of the 33 original mothers is yours. ?Your genes have been through a fantastic journey,? says Sykes.

Sykes first started taking DNA from archeological bones and in 1994 was invited to examine the frozen remains of a 5,000-year-old man trapped in glacial ice in Northern Italy. This led him to research how a gene passed undiluted from generation to generation through the maternal line. ?If you look at the mitochondrial gene, it is DNA which is just inherited from your mother,? he explains. ?It is found in eggs, not sperm.?

After taking several thousand DNA samples, he was able to narrow down the clan mothers. ?To bring these women alive, I gave them names and worked out where they lived and when. They range from Ursula in Greece 45,000 years ago to Jasmine 10,000 years ago in Syria?she came from the Middle East along with the farmers.

?There are roughly 33 equivalent clusters if you take the whole world. Eventually it all comes down to Mitochondrial Eve 200,000 years ago.?

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