Monday, April 28, 2014

Blood in the Gourd

It is not Louis' blood after all. I wonder what went wrong with the first round of tests. From the BBC:
Early forensic tests suggested it was possible that this was the blood of the French king. But this latest research casts doubt on its royal provenance. To investigate, the scientists examined stretches of the sample's genome that relate to physical appearance. Portraits of Louis XVI depict him with blue eyes, but this sample belongs to a person who was far more likely to have had brown eyes.

"The probability of this guy having blue eyes is very low - it is about 3%," said Prof Lalueza-Fox.

Historical records, including correspondence from Louis XVI's wife, Marie-Antoinette, also state that the king was very tall. While the average height was about 167cm (5ft 5in) at this time, the King was thought to be at least 185cm (6ft 1in) in height. Prof Lalueza-Fox said: "Not all the genetic basis of height is known. However, we do know the genetic markers in extreme cases for very tall people or very small people.

"But this sample doesn't have an excess of markers that could be related to a very tall person. It really looks like we don't have the king here."

The scientists also looked at genetic ancestry, which shows which parts of Europe a person's ancestors came from. The DNA from the sample suggests the individual had roots that traced mainly back to France and Italy, while many of Louis XVI's ancestors came from Germany and Poland. The team concludes that it's extremely unlikely that this is Louis XVI's blood. (Read more.)

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