An international research team led by Dr. Turi King from the University of Leicester’s Department of Genetics provides overwhelming evidence that the skeleton discovered under a car park in Leicester, U.K. indeed represents the remains of King Richard III, thereby closing what is probably the oldest forensic case solved to date.
The team of researchers, including Professor of English Local History, Kevin Schürer, who is also Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Leicester, who led the genealogical research for the project, has published their findings online in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications.
After careful excavation from the parking lot in September 2012, the skull, the lower jaw, and one femur from the skeleton were placed for safe-keeping in the cleanroom in the University’s Space Research Centre, which is normally used for the construction of spacecraft components. Due to their preservation, the teeth offered the best hope of intact mitochondrial DNA but the femur was kept as a back-up source.
The researchers from Leicester also included Dr. Jo Appleby – archaeologist/osteologist, excavation of remains; John Holt – Researcher at the Space Research Centre, oversees the clean lab; Professor David Ekserdjian – Art Historian, advised on portraits; Rita Neumann – research technician in Department of Genetics and Pierpaolo Maisano Delser – researcher, Department of Genetics.[video:http://youtu.be/yYY-usw9K_U]Dr. Turi King and Professor Kevin Schϋrer discuss the findings of the genetic and genealogical analysis in the King Richard III case. This includes coverage of all the genealogical research, and the results of the mitochondrial and Y chromosome analysis.
The team collected DNA from living relatives of Richard III and analyzed several genetic markers, including the complete mitochondrial genomes, inherited through the maternal line, and Y-chromosomal markers, inherited through the paternal line, from both the skeletal remains and the living relatives.
The researchers also used genetic markers to determine hair and eye color of Richard III and found that with probably blond hair and almost certainly blue eyes Richard III looked most similar to his depiction in one of the earliest portraits of him that survived, that in the Society of Antiquaries in London.
The scientists also compared the skeleton’s DNA to samples from living relatives on Richard’s father’s side. No match was found, which questions the nobility of some royals.
The researchers cannot say where on the family tree the adultery occurred, but can say that the findings potentially raise questions about the legitimacy of Henry V, Henry VI, and the entire Tudor dynasty, including Henry VIII and Elizabeth I.
The research team now plans to sequence the complete genome of Richard III to learn more about the last English king to die in battle.
The University of Leicester was the principal funder of the research. Dr. King’s post is part-funded by The Wellcome Trust and the Leverhulme Trust.
Release Date: December 2, 2014
Source: University of Leicester
King’s Skeleton Unearthed from Parking Lot: http://www.cemag.us/news/2013/02/kings-skeleton-unearthed-parking-lot#.UdMLv9jhd8U
Digging Resumes at King’s Burial Site: http://www.cemag.us/news/2013/07/digging-resumes-king%E2%80%99s-burial-site
3D Scans Uncover Truth About Richard III’s Spinal Condition: http://www.cemag.us/news/2014/05/3d-scans-uncover-truth-about-richard-iii%E2%80%99s-spinal-condition
Ancient King’s 3D Printed Skeleton on Display: http://www.cemag.us/news/2014/07/ancient-kings-3d-printed-skeleton-display