Thursday, January 3, 2013

Royal Ashes and the Genome

Alexander died, Alexander was buried, Alexander returneth to dust, the dust is earth, of earth we make loam—and why of that loam, whereto he was converted, might they not stop a beer barrel? 
Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay, 
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away. (Hamlet V.1)

Arline sent this in the wake of our discussion of the Trojan/Roman gene pool today:

Squash Holds Decapitated King Louis XVI's Blood

More than 200 years ago, France's King Louis XVI was killed (along with his wife, Marie Antoinette) via guillotine, and legend has it someone used a handkerchief to soak up the king's blood, then stored the handkerchief in a gourd. 
Now scientists have confirmed that a squash emblazoned with figures from the French Revolution indeed contains the dried blood of the executed king.

             <big snip>
By comparing the Y chromosome in both samples, the team concluded that the two men were 250 times more likely to be genetically related than unrelated. Both samples had genetic variants characteristic of the Bourbon region of France, and those variants are very rare in Europe today. 
Given the history behind the samples, the new findings confirm that both the dried blood belongs to King Louis XVI. It also verifies that the embalmed head once belonged to King Henry IV. 
Now that it has confirmed the blood came from Louis XVI, the team is planning to reconstruct the entire genome of the deposed French monarch.

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