04 February 2013

A good day for DNA evidence

The press conference revealing confirmation that a skeleton found beneath a parking lot in Leicester is "beyond reasonable doubt" that of King Richard III is all over the media.
The available evidence forms a consistent pattern; the DNA evidence was highlighted by the BBC in their report "DNA confirms bones are king's" - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-21063882.
I've been looking for the details on the DNA test. So far what is released is statements confirming that there's a close mitochrondial DNA match with two people who have solid paper trails back to the king's mother. The exact wording of Dr Turi King, project geneticist, is that:
"There is a DNA match between the maternal DNA of the descendants of the family of Richard III and the skeletal remains we found at the Greyfriars dig." "In short, the DNA evidence points to these being the remains of Richard III."
In addition there's a tantalizing extract of the DNA data at http://www.le.ac.uk/richardiii/science/resultsofdna.html consistent with group J 
Michael Ibsen, one of the people used as a benchmark for King Richard is said to be in haplogroup J which accounts for about 10% of people in the UK, at that time about 250,000 people. Hopefully there's more data in the "Richard III" sample than released and the mtDNA match will be more definitive.
There's also a suggestion there may be evidence from Y-DNA to come.

A second unrelated DNA story at http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-918630
tells how a 23andMe test and the work of a volunteer helped reunite a mother and son.

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