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Richard III discovery spurs excitement, skepticism (+video)

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"The DNA results presented today are too weak, as they stand, to support the claim that DNA is actually from Richard III," said Maria Avila, a computational biologist at the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. "Perhaps more in-depth DNA analysis summed to the archaeological and osteological [bone analysis] results would make a round story."

DNA of a king

University of Leicester archaeologists announced today (Feb. 4) that a skeleton found months before under a city council parking lot does indeed belong to the medieval king. The researchers suspected the bones might belong to Richard III, because they sported wounds consistent with the king's death in the 1485 Battle of Bosworth Field. Several wounds to the skull, in particular, were consistent with almost immediate death by either brain injury or blood loss.

The skeleton also exhibits a twisting of the spine known as scoliosis, which meshes with historical reports of Richard III as a "hunchback." (He wasn't actually a hunchback, the researchers point out — scoliosis may have made him look slightly lopsided, however.) The date of the bones and burial location also fit the Richard III identification.

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