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article imageRichard III's skeleton: Is it really beyond reasonable doubt?

By Eko Armunanto     Feb 4, 2013 in World
Richard Buckley, lead archaeologist of the University of Leicester, reported Monday in the city 90 miles northwest of London saying that the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in September 2012 is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.
"It is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that beyond reasonable doubt", he said as quoted by The Washington Post.
Scientific tests were used to match DNA samples taken from Canadian-born Michael Ibsen, a direct descendent of Anne of York, Richard's elder sister. "For me it’s an absolute privilege to be a part, even in a small way, of such a historically significant series of events," he said.
BBC reported that the bones, according to Buckley, had been subjected to rigorous academic study and had been carbon dated to a period from 1455-1540. The skeleton had suffered 10 injuries, including eight to the skull, at around the time of death. Two of the skull wounds were potentially fatal.
An osteo-archaeologist from the university's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, Dr Jo Appleby, revealed the bones were of a man in his late 20s or early 30s. Richard was 32 when he died.
A mitochondrial DNA match does not always yield perfect results as two people could have the same type simply by chance. "If the only thing you can compare that ancient DNA with is somebody living today, then you'd want it to be mitochondria", said Mark Thomas, a professor of evolutionary genetics at University College London, as reported by The Guardian. He further explained that Mitochondria is not brilliant for detecting relatedness, but it's as good as it can get, given we've got so far back in time, so many generations back.
The results have not yet been published in a journal for peer review , it might be worth throwing in a little scepticism, for now at least. Ross Barnett of the Centre for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum in Copenhagen also questioned the depth of the mitochondrial DNA match between the skeleton and Ibsen.
Ross explained that the diagrams they showed were only about 30 base pairs or so, but we need to have quite a lot more than 30 base pairs to get a deep match.He underlined that the more common a mitochondrial DNA type is in the population, the more base pairs of DNA are required to get a reliable match.
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