Tuesday, February 18, 2014

King Richard III will be first famous historical figure to have genome sequenced

Richard III 

It’s not every day that you stumble upon the remains of a king under a parking lot, but that’s what happened last year as archaeologists searched for the remains of King Richard III of England. Having successfully identified the former king’s remains, researchers are now planning to take a closer look at Richard III’s genes. This will make him the first famous historical figure to have his genome sequenced.

Richard III ruled England for just two years, from 1483 to 1485 when he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field. A few hundred years is a long time for humanity, but DNA is hearty enough to remain mostly intact after that amount of time. Researchers will grind small samples of bone in an effort to extract samples of DNA. While the body of Richard III isn’t terribly old in archaeological terms, the moist clay he was buried in isn’t ideal for preserving genetic material.

The DNA from human remains several thousand years old, like those of Ötzi the Iceman, has been sequenced in the past. However, the king will be the first person of note to be sequenced. Genetics can’t tell us about the events of Richard III’s life, but it can tell us a little about how he lived. Researchers hope that analyzing Richard III’s genes will give clues to his physical appearance and how closely surviving portraits resemble him. It could also point to a genetic cause of the scoliosis that Richard was reported to suffer from.

For the rest of the story: http://www.geek.com/science/king-richard-iii-will-be-first-famous-historical-figure-to-have-genome-sequences-1584942/

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