A new paper in Forensic Science International: Genetics by Carles Lalueza-Fox, Elena Gigli, Carla Bini, Francesc Calafella, Donata Luiselli, Susi Pelotti, and Davide Pettener details the results of DNA analysis of the unfortunate King Louis XVI of France executed by the Revolutionary convention 21 January 1793.
Wikipedia notes: “It is agreed that while Louis’s blood dripped to the ground many members of the crowd ran forward to dip their handkerchiefs in it.”
A text on a pyrographically decorated gourd dated to 1793 explains that it contains a handkerchief dipped with the blood of Louis XVI, king of France, after his execution. Biochemical analyses confirmed that the material contained within the gourd was blood. The mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) and 2 (HVR2), the Y-chromosome STR profile, some autosomal STR markers and a SNP in HERC2 gene associated to blue eyes, were retrieved, and some results independently replicated in two different laboratories. The uncommon mtDNA sequence retrieved can be attributed to a N1b haplotype, while the novel Y-chromosome haplotype belongs to haplogroup G2a. The HERC2 gene showed that the subject analyzed was a heterozygote, which is compatible with a blue-eyed person, as king Louis XVI was. To confirm the identity of the subject, an analysis of the dried heart of his son, Louis XVII, could be undertaken.
The mitochondrial dna haplogroup N1b is a decidedly unusual. Louis XVI’s mother was Princess Maria Josepha of Saxony, the daughter of Maria Josepha of Austria, granddaughter of Wilhelmine Amalia of Brunswick-Lüneburg, ggd of Benedicta Henrietta of the Palatinate, gggd of Anne Gonzaga, ggggd of Catherine of Mayenne, a member of the House of Guise, a junior branch of the royal House of Lorraine.
The old Allied canard that Hitler was really Jewish may actually be true. The Telegraph report is vague and is clearly written by someone who does not really understand genealogical DNA testing or Y-chromosome Haplogroups.
Human gender is genetically determined by two chromosomes, X and Y. A pair of X chromosomes results in a female. X and Y produces a male.
Patrilineal descent can be determined by the specific markers inherited in male Y chromosomal dna. Haplogroups of typical Ydna markers have been identified, of which a little more than a dozen are characteristically found in European populations.
Saliva samples taken from 39 relatives of the Nazi leader show he may have had biological links to the “subhuman” races that he tried to exterminate during the Holocaust.
Jean-Paul Mulders, a Belgian journalist, and Marc Vermeeren, a historian, tracked down the Fuhrer’s relatives, including an Austrian farmer who was his cousin, earlier this year.
A chromosome called Haplogroup E1b1b1 which showed up in their samples is rare in Western Europe and is most commonly found in the Berbers of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, as well as among Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.
“One can from this postulate that Hitler was related to people whom he despised,” Mr Mulders wrote in the Belgian magazine, Knack.
Haplogroup E1b1b1, which accounts for approximately 18 to 20 per cent of Ashkenazi and 8.6 per cent to 30 per cent of Sephardic Y-chromosomes, appears to be one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population. ...
“The affair is fascinating if one compares it with the conception of the world of the Nazis, in which race and blood was central.
“Hitler’s concern over his descent was not unjustified. He was apparently not “pure” or ‘Ayran’.”
It is not the first time that historians have suggested Hitler had Jewish ancestry.
His father, Alois, is thought to have been the illegitimate offspring of a maid called Maria Schickelgruber and a 19-year-old Jewish man called Frankenberger.
If the Belgian magazine really tested the Ydna of persons sharing patrilineal descent with Adolph Hitler and found the haplogroup he shared to have been E1b1b1, that means his paternal descent was typically Levantine and he probably really was of Jewish descent in the male line.
There were racial laws during the time he was alive in Germany that could have produced big problems for him.
A New Zealand representative of the Percy family is attempting to claim the earldom and estates of the ancient Percy family of Northumberland on the basis of a supposititious descent from a male-line overlooked at the time of the death of Josceline the 7th Earl in 1670.
No male heir was discovered at that time, and the Percy estates went to his only daughter, Lady Elizabeth, who married three times, becoming by her last marriage Duchess of Somerset.
Her granddaughter, also an Elizabeth, married Sir Hugh Smithson in 1740, causing him to inherit the Earldom of Northumberland upon her father’s death. Smithson obligingly changed his name to Percy, and received the extinct title of Duke of Northumberland via a third creation in 1766.
Kevin Percy of Napier, New Zealand believes that the commonality of the personal name Thomas, Edward, and Francis between his own (formerly) Pursey family and that of Thomas Percy, great grandson of the 4th earl of Northumberland and one of the principals of the Gunpowder Plot suggests the identity of his own ancestry with one of the cadet lines of the famous Percys of Northumberland.
All of this is explained at a web-page devoted to the Percy family of New Zealand and its genealogical theories.
Mr. Percy hopes that DNA testing of exhumed Percy bodies will be able to prove his own descent from the Gunpowder Plotter and confirm his own theories making him rightful heir to the Percy family titles and estates.
As the Dominion Post (Wellington, N.Z.) reports, were he to be successful, the rewards would be awfully good.
A Napier antiques dealer has claimed that his family are the rightful heirs to one of Britain’s most famous dynasties, which owns the castle used in the Harry Potter movies.
Kevin Percy, 74, believes his family was cheated out of inheriting the Earl of Northumberland’s massive estate, now conservatively valued at $685m.
He has started a bold bid asking British authorities, including the Queen, to exhume the bodies of two suspected relatives for DNA tests, which he says would prove or disprove his claim. The two men died in 1560 and 1716.
His bid targets one of Britain’s most celebrated noble families, which dominated the Middle Ages. The earldom owns nearly 50,000 hectares of land in Britain.
Are you a genetically a dandelion or an orchid? Both have their place in the evolutionary scheme of things according to a recent article in the Atlantic by David Dobbs.
Most of us have genes that make us as hardy as dandelions: able to take root and survive almost anywhere. A few of us, however, are more like the orchid: fragile and fickle, but capable of blooming spectacularly if given greenhouse care. So holds a provocative new theory of genetics, which asserts that the very genes that give us the most trouble as a species, causing behaviors that are self-destructive and antisocial, also underlie humankind’s phenomenal adaptability and evolutionary success. With a bad environment and poor parenting, orchid children can end up depressed, drug-addicted, or in jail—but with the right environment and good parenting, they can grow up to be society’s most creative, successful, and happy people.
Jonathan Shaw in Harvard Magazine explains that studies of population DNA suggest that an effective policy of sexual apartheid practiced by the newly arrived Anglo-Saxons could have eliminated British male Y chromosomal DNA in as few as five generations. The Spanish conquistadores in Colombia and the Vikings in Scotland and Ireland left similar DNA patterns, in which the male heredity of the modern population is overwhelming traceable to the invaders, but female mitochondrial DNA predominantly descends from the conquered population.
Moral? Successful invaders get the girls. At some level, history amounts to a contest over who gets to reproduce his DNA, and who does not.
There are no signs of a massacre—no mass graves, no piles of bones. Yet more than a million men vanished without a trace. They left no descendants. Historians know that something dramatic happened in England just as the Roman empire was collapsing. When the Anglo-Saxons ﬁrst arrived in that northern outpost in the fourth century a.d.—whether as immigrants or invaders is debated—they encountered an existing Romano-Celtic population estimated at between 2 million and 3.7 million people. Latin and Celtic were the dominant languages. Yet the ensuing cultural transformation was so complete, says Goelet professor of medieval history Michael McCormick, that by the eighth century, English civilization considered itself completely Anglo-Saxon, spoke only Anglo-Saxon, and thought that everyone had “come over on the Mayﬂower, as it were.” This extraordinary change has had ramiﬁcations down to the present, and is why so many people speak English rather than Latin or Celtic today. But how English culture was completely remade, the historical record does not say.
Then, in 2002, scientists found a genetic signature in the DNA of living British men that hinted at an untold story of Anglo-Saxon conquest. The researchers were sampling Y-chromosomes, the sex chromosome passed down only in males, from men living in market towns named in the Domesday Book of 1086. Working along an east-west transect through central England and Wales, the scientists discovered that the mix of Y-chromosomes characteristic of men in the English towns was very different from that of men in the Welsh towns: Wales was the primary Celtic holdout in Western Britannia during the ascendance of the Anglo-Saxons. Using computer analysis, the researchers explored how such a pattern could have arisen and concluded that a massive replacement of the native fourth-century male Britons had taken place. Between 50 percent and 100 percent of indigenous English men today, the researchers estimate, are descended from Anglo-Saxons who arrived on England’s eastern coast 16 centuries ago. So what happened?
Scientists at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) have detected evidence that DNA may not be the only carrier of heritable information; a secondary molecular mechanism called epigenetics may also account for some inherited traits and diseases. These findings challenge the fundamental principles of genetics and inheritance, and potentially provide a new insight into the primary causes of human diseases.
The New York Times summarizes an article on European Genetics from Current Biology which arrives the conclusion that it could very likely be possible to identify the nationality of Europeans by genetic testing.
Europe has been colonized three times in the distant past, always from the south. Some 45,000 years ago the first modern humans entered Europe from the south. The glaciers returned around 20,000 years ago and the second colonization occurred about 17,000 years ago by people returning from southern refuges. The third invasion was that of farmers bringing the new agricultural technology from the Near East around 10,000 years ago.
The pattern of genetic differences among present day Europeans probably reflects the impact of these three ancient migrations, Dr. Kayser said.
The map also identifies the existence of two genetic barriers within Europe. One is between the Finns (light blue, upper right) and other Europeans. It arose because the Finnish population was at one time very small and then expanded, bearing the atypical genetics of its few founders.
The other is between Italians (yellow, bottom center) and the rest. This may reflect the role of the Alps in impeding free flow of people between Italy and the rest of Europe.
Correlation between Genetic and Geographic Structure in Europe article
Results show modern humans, Neandertals diverged 660,000 years ago
An international consortium of researchers reports in the Aug. 8 Cell that for the first time the complete sequence of mitochondrial DNA from a Neandertal has been deciphered. Comparison of the Neandertal sequence with mitochondrial sequences from modern humans confirms that the two groups belong to different branches of humankind’s family tree, diverging 660,000 years ago.
That date is not statistically different from previous estimates of the split between humans and Neandertals, says Erik Trinkaus, a paleoanthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis. The sequence also doesn’t reveal what happened to drive Neandertals to extinction, but it does clear up some discrepancies in earlier studies. ...
At 16,565 bases long, the new sequence is the largest stretch of Neandertal DNA ever examined. The DNA was isolated from a 38,000-year-old bone found in a cave in Croatia.
“It’s a nice accomplishment and the next important step toward completing the Neandertal genome,” says Stephan Schuster of Pennsylvania State University in University Park. Schuster is part of a group that is sequencing the genomes of the mammoth and other extinct animals, but was not involved in the current study. “It’s a nice landmark on the way to saying what makes modern humans so special.”
In order to know exactly how modern humans and Neandertals differ, scientists will need to examine DNA from the Neandertal’s entire genome. The sequence reported in the new study was generated as part of a project to decode Neandertal DNA, but it contains information only about DNA from mitochondria.
Mitochondria are organelles that generate energy for a cell. Inside each mitochondrion is a circular piece of DNA that contains genes encoding some of the key proteins responsible for power generation. Mitochondria are passed down from mothers to their children. Scientists use variations in mitochondrial DNA as a molecular clock to tell how fast species are evolving.
Scientists have previously examined a short piece of Neandertal mitochondrial DNA known as the hypervariable region, but this new complete sequence helps clear up some ambiguities from studies comparing Neandertals and humans, says John Hawks, a biological anthropologist from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Some modern humans have several changes in the hypervariable region that made it seem as if Neandertals are more closely related to modern humans than humans are to each other.
“Comparing the complete mitochondrial DNA genomes of a Neandertal and many recent humans presents a very different picture,” Hawks says. “Humans are all more similar to each other, than any human is to a Neandertal. And in fact the Neandertal sequence is three or more times as different, on average, from us as we are from each other. This change from the earlier picture is a purely statistical one, but it makes a clearer picture.”
Human and Neandertal mitochondrial DNAs differ at 206 positions out of the 16,565 examined, while modern humans differ at only about 100 positions when compared with each other.
British newspapers report that living residents of Nienstedt, a village in the foothills of the Harz Mountains in Lower Saxony, have been found by DNA analysis to be relatives of 3000-year-old Bronze Age inhabitants of the same area interred in the nearby Lichtensteinhöhle cave.
The good news for two villagers in the Söse valley of Germany yesterday was that they have discovered their (127th times)-great grandparents.
The bad news is that their long-lost ancestors may have grilled and eaten other members of their clan.
Every family has its skeletons in the cave, though, so Manfred Hucht-hausen, 58, a teacher, and 48-year-old surveyor Uwe Lange remained in celebratory mood. Thanks to DNA testing of remarkably well-preserved Bronze Age bones, they can claim to have the longest proven family tree in the world. “I can trace my family back by name to 1550,” Mr Lange said. “Now I can go back 120 generations.”
Mr Lange comes from the village of Nienstedt, in Lower Saxony, in the foothills of the Harz mountain range. “We used to play in these caves as kids. If I’d known that there were 3,000-year-old relatives buried there I wouldn’t have set foot in the place.”
The cave, the Lichtensteinhöhle, is made up of five interlocked natural chambers. It stayed hidden from view until 1980 and was not researched properly until 1993. The archaeologist Stefan Flindt found 40 skeletons along with what appeared to be cult objects. ...
Analysis showed that all the bones were from the same family and the scientists speculated that it was a living area and a ceremonial burial place.
About 300 locals agreed to giving saliva swabs. Two of the cave family had a very rare genetic pattern – and a match was found.
The bones of 40 people were shielded from the elements by calcium deposits that formed a protective skin around the skeletons.
All the remains turned out to be from the same family group who had a distinctive – and rare – DNA pattern.
When people in the local area were tested with saliva swabs, two nearby residents turned out to have the same distinctive genetic characteristic.
Manfred Huchthausen, a 58-year-old teacher, and Uwe Lange, a 48-year-old surveyer, now believe they are even more local than either of them thought.
Inma Pazos at iGENEA Forum provides more specific information.
(translated & abridged)
DNA analysis really found that 15 of 22 skeletons were relatives, constituting several generations of a family clan. In 2007, about 300 DNA samples of today’s indigenous population in Osterode-am-Harz were collected and tested for possible affinity. Susann Hummel, a leading anthropologist, has identified eleven living persons as descendants of the cave burials.
Ten lines of mtDNA haplogroup H, four of haplogroup U, two of the haplogroup J and three of the haplogroup T were identified. A further breakdown in the sub-groups succeeded in identifying U5b, T2 and J1b1. In another case, membership in sub-group U2 was considered very likely.
Human beings may have had a brush with extinction 70,000 years ago, an extensive genetic study suggests. The human population at that time was reduced to small isolated groups in Africa, apparently because of drought, according to an analysis released Thursday.
The report notes that a separate study by researchers at Stanford University estimated the number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the early Stone Age.
“This study illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species’ history,” Spencer Wells, National Geographic Society explorer in residence, said in a statement. “Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions, coming back from the brink to reunite and populate the world. Truly an epic drama, written in our DNA.”
Wells is director of the Genographic Project, launched in 2005 to study anthropology using genetics. The report was published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
Previous studies using mitochondrial DNA — which is passed down through mothers — have traced modern humans to a single “mitochondrial Eve,” who lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago.
The migrations of humans out of Africa to populate the rest of the world appear to have begun about 60,000 years ago, but little has been known about humans between Eve and that dispersal.
The new study looks at the mitochondrial DNA of the Khoi and San people in South Africa which appear to have diverged from other people between 90,000 and 150,000 years ago.
The BBC reports the study’s conclusion that mankind nearly split into two separate species at the same time.
Ancient humans started down the path of evolving into two separate species before merging back into a single population, a genetic study suggests.
The genetic split in Africa resulted in distinct populations that lived in isolation for as much as 100,000 years, the scientists say.
This could have been caused by arid conditions driving a wedge between humans in eastern and southern Africa.
The region around Liverpool was once a major Viking settlement, according to a genetic study of men living in the area.
The research tapped into this Viking ancestry by focusing on people whose surnames were recorded in the area before its population underwent a huge expansion during the industrial revolution. Among men with these “original” surnames, 50% have Norse ancestry.
The find backs up historical evidence from place names and archaeological finds of Viking treasure which suggests significant numbers of Norwegian Vikings settled in the north-west in the 10th century. “[The genetics] is very exciting because it ties in with the other evidence from the area,” said Professor Stephen Harding at the University of Nottingham, who carried out the work with a team at the University of Leicester led by Professor Mark Jobling.
They used historical documents, including a tax register from the time of Henry VIII, to identify surnames common in the region. They then recruited 77 male volunteers with “original” surnames, and looked for a genetic signature of Viking ancestry on the Y chromosome. They report in Molecular Biology and Evolution that a Y chromosome type, R1a, common in Norway, is also very common among men with original surnames.
US scientists say an animal found in Texas is not the chupacabra – or goat-sucker – of American myth, but a coyote with a hair loss problem. DNA tests on the carcass found at a ranch south-east of San Antonio yielded a virtually identical match to coyote DNA, biologist Mike Forstner said.
The coyote was one of three found dead by rancher Phylis Canion this summer.
Central American myth has long spoken of a vampire-like creature that slays livestock by sucking out their blood.
The chupacabra is said to attack its victims at night, leaving a trail of carcasses with their throats torn out.
Mr Forstner said that he himself had assumed the creature brought in for testing at Texas State University was a domestic dog but “the DNA sequence is a virtually identical match to DNA from the coyote”.
Ms Canion and some of her neighbours discovered the 40-pound (18-kg) carcasses of three of the animals over four days in July outside her ranch in Cuero, 90 miles (145km) south-east of San Antonio.
She said she had saved the head of one of them to get it properly tested.
Additional hide samples have been taken to try to determine the cause of the animal’s hair loss, Mr Forstner said.