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DNA confirms the authenticity of the mummified head of Henry the IV

DNA confirms the authenticity of the mummified head of Henry the IV

A research work recently published in Forensic Science International, with participation of IBE researchers has been able to extract genetic material from the relic, whose Y chromosome profile is coincident with that of his descendant Louis XVI, conserved in a pumpkin. DNA of both remains belong to the same male line of descent separated by seven generations. 

08.01.2013

 

A pyrographically decorated gourd, dated to the French Revolution period, has been alleged to contain a handkerchief dipped into the blood of the French king Louis XVI (1754–1793) after his beheading but recent analyses of living males from two Bourbon branches cast doubts on its authenticity. IBE scientists led by Carles Lalueza-Fox sequenced the complete genome of the DNA contained in the gourd at low coverage (~2.5×) with coding sequences enriched at a higher ~7.3× coverage. They found that the ancestry of the gourd's genome does not seem compatible with Louis XVI's known ancestry. From a functional perspective, they did not find an excess of alleles contributing to height despite being described as the tallest person in Court. In addition, the eye colour prediction supported brown eyes, while Louis XVI had blue eyes. This is the first draft genome generated from a person who lived in a recent historical period; however, our results suggest that this sample may not correspond to the alleged king.

Ref article: Philippe Charlier, Iñigo Olalde, Neus Solé, Oscar Ramírez, Jean-Pierre Babelon, Bruno Galland, Francesc Calafell, Carles Lalueza-Fox. Genetic comparison of the head of Henri IV and the presumptive blood from Louis XVI (both Kings of France). Forensic Science International. DOI: 10.1016/j.forsciint.2012.11.018

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