If you want to discover your genetic history and where you came from... you’ve found the right place!

888-806-2588

Review of Science Writing and News Reports on DNA Testing and Popular Genetics

Richard III's New Winter of Discontent

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Shakespeare painted the last of the York rulers of England as a murderous maniac who was rightly dispatched to hell by Henry Tudor in 1485. But the story of Richard III's skeleton supposedly dug up last year in a parking lot may top that of the Bard for pulling the wool over our eyes. Or it may be the luckiest archeological find since King Tut . . . . 

The last of the York dynasty was buried in Greyfriars, Leicester, but Britons are now talking about re-interring the bones believed to be Richard's in Westminster Cathedral with England's other beloved monarchs. In 2012, a writer from Edinburgh, Philippa Langley, was walking over a particular spot in the municipal parking lot when she got goosebumps and "absolutely knew I was walking on his grave." Langley helped fund an archeological excavation and on February 4, 2013, the University of Leicester confirmed that a skeleton found in the excavation was, "beyond reasonable doubt," that of Richard III, based on a combination of evidence from radiocarbon dating, comparison with contemporary reports of his slight frame, and a comparison of his mitochondrial DNA with two matrilineal descendants of Richard III's eldest sister, Anne of York. 

Hunches and Hunchbacks

According to a BBC article, “Richard III: The Twisted Bones that Reveal a King,” the skeleton had a “striking curvature” that could only be that of the hunchback king. But according to a Daily Beast article, “Unraveling King Richard III’s Secrets,” Shakespeare wrote a century after the fact and had a pro-Tudor, anti-York political agenda. “Portraits made after his defeat that show Richard with a hump- or at least uneven shoulders- are suspect as Tudor propaganda.” There is no historical evidence of Richard III having a “striking curvature” of the spine. Or even “uneven shoulders.”  There is no evidence beyond Shakespeare of his deformity. In fact, there is historical evidence to the contrary. The article, “Richard’s Comeback,” quotes the historian, Thomas More, as saying Richard III was of “bodily shape comely enough, onely (sic) of low stature.” The Countess of Desmond reported that, at a royal ball, Richard was the ‘“handsomest man in the room . . . except for his brother, Edward, and was very well made." 

Despite historical evidence, most articles that discuss remaining doubts about the case like, “Doubts Remain that the Leicester body is Richard III,” miss this point and take it as a historical fact that Richard III had scoliosis as does the skeleton that has been found in the parking lot.

What of historical depictions of Richard III’s face? “No portraits made during his lifetime have survived  and some later copies show signs of having been altered to make him appear more sinister” (“ Richard III: The Twisted Bones”). Nevertheless, a 3D scan of the skull was taken, and a 3D face created and painted. Ashdown –Hill is quoted as telling the BBC in the article, “Richard III Facial Reconstruction Reveals Slain King More than 500 Years After His Death,”that it “largely matched” the “prominent features” in posthumous representations of the king. The artist, Janine Aitken said her part was “interpretive not scientific.” At least it is a pleasant face. But is it Richard III’s face?

Jumping to Forensic Conclusions

And the skeleton includes 10 battle wounds showing Richard III “met a violent death…”eight to the head and two to the body—which they believe were inflicted at or around the time of death. Since he died in a battle, did not other soldiers meet untimely wounds in such a manner?

Not a few scientists are waiting for peer-reviewed results. But there are none. Instead of waiting for a boring academic conference, the sponsors at the Richard III Society chose to release the results via a Hollywood style press conference. 

What kind of DNA analysis was used? Mitochondrial DNA. According to Bryony Jones in his CNN article, “Body Found under Parking Lot is King Richard III, Scientists Prove,” “the mitochondrial DNA extracted from the bones was matched to Michael Ibsen, a Canadian cabinetmaker and direct descendant of Richard III’s sister, Anne of York, and a second distant relative who wishes to remain anonymous.” Well, end of story and close that book. Right? Not so fast. Some scientists believe that the testing done was not sufficient. Why?

Mitochondrial DNA has limitations. It does reflect the deepest ancestry [see The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes], but is also prone to contamination [under such circumstances]( Pappas). Especially when we are discussing skeletons reminiscent of Night of the Living Dead interred improperly for centuries in damp soil. Timothy Bestor, Professor of Genetics and Development at Columbia University Medical Center, is quoted in the NY Academy of Sciences article, “Skeletal Remains of King Richard III Reportedly Discovered,” as saying that the possible quality of the [mitochondrial] DNA [under the given circumstances] was one of his key reasons for skepticism. “’After 500 years or more in a wet environment like England’s, “‘the microbes are going to degrade the DNA. It’s just food to them, ‘” says Dr. Bestor.  And Pappas quotes Maria Avila, a computational biologist at the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum as saying, “The DNA results presented today are too weak, as they stand, to support the claim that [the] DNA [sample] is actually from Richard III…more in depth DNA analysis summed to the archaeological and osteological [bone analysis] results would make a round story [She is requesting Autosomal DNA analysis akin to what was done with the hominin discovery of the Denisovans].”  And she wonders about contamination with the type of DNA testing that was done. Avila says that, “Before being convinced of ANY atDNA study, it should be explicit that all possible cautions were taken to avoid contamination” and … “ also warned that people could share mitochondrial DNA even if they share a family tree” ( Pappas). The article, “Doubts Remain that the Leicester Body is Richard III,” a Mark Thomas at University College London is quoted as saying that “people can have matching mitochondrial DNA by chance and not be related.”

And Bestor asserts there other reasons to be skeptical, even though “Richard Buckley, lead archeologist from the University of Leicester, asserts ‘“this is beyond reasonable doubt’” based on genetic and historical forensic evidence.” Bestor argues that beyond the high risk of sample contamination, there are three other “particularly complicating factors.”  Of course, it is often an overlooked fact that “the English aristocracy reproduced within a closed gene pool in order to preserve lineages. This inbreeding results in consanguinity” (“Skeletal Remains of King Richard III”).  Dr. Bestor is quoted as saying, “ You may have the same mitochondrial haplotype, but that does not guarantee a lineal descent from a given individual.” [ Mitochondrial DNA analysis is not the same as Y haplotype DNA analysis because it focuses on deeper ancestry whereas male haplotype DNA analysis is linked to more recent male lines ]. He also points out the possibility of adoption. [The possibility of an adoption or any type of non-paternity event increases as one delves back into the distant past of any family tree]:

Another confounding factor is that, in the 17-25 generations separating King Richard’s sister from her extant relatives, there is a fair chance that children of deceased parents’ may have been adopted by their parents’ siblings somewhere along the way. After all, medieval lives were short. Such adoptions may have been kept private and excluded from historical or genealogical records. 

              

Moreover, Bestor points out that the “genetic sequences and statistical data are yet to be released” but adds that the “historical evidence is quite compelling.” According to this article, forensic evidence of the bones (1455-1540)matches with the time that Richard III was to have died ( 1485). But didn’t many people die at this same time during the same battle with similar wounds?

Astonishing or Unbelievable? Watch the University of Leicester's Full Press Conference 

Comments

Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.





Captcha Image

 

 

When Wales Was Jewish

Monday, April 02, 2012

Short answer: pre-Roman times.

As is well known, Haplogroup E1b1b1 accounts for approximately 18% to 20% of Ashkenazi and 8.6% to 30% of Sephardic Y-chromosomes. This North African type appears to be one of the major founding lineages of the Jewish population.[i]

In Britain, this quintessential Jewish type (together with J, another telltale sign of Middle Eastern roots) is absent or negligible in many towns and regions but reported in elevated frequencies in Wales (Llanidloes 7%, Llangefni 5%), the Midlands (Southwell, Nottinghamshire 12%, Uttoxeter 8%), Faversham in Kent (9%), Dorchester in the West Country with historic harbors (7%), Midhurst in West Sussex commanding ancient sea-ports (5%)  and the Channel Islands, always an important crossroads of influences (5%).[ii] Bryan Sykes’ survey of paternal clans in England and Wales confirms significant traces of the E haplogroup which he dubs Eshu in southern England (4.9%) and Wales (3.1%).[iii] It reaches its highest point in Britain in Abergele, Wales (nearly 40%), an anomaly that has been attributed to Roman soldiers of Balkan origin but may have alternative and more complex explanations.

See our blog post "Right Church, Wrong Pew," arguing that the footprint of E in Britain is attributable to North African influence, not the descendants of Roman legionnaires from the Balkans.

In 2011, Llangefni  and Wrexham in North Wales became the focus of a call for local men to provide samples of their unusual DNA. A team of scientists lead by Andy Grierson and Robert Johnston from the University of Sheffield hoped to link the migration of men from the Mediterranean to the copper mined at Parys Mountain on Anglesey and on the Great Orme promontory nearby. A preliminary analysis of 500 participants showed 30% of the men carried E1b1b, compared to 1% of men elsewhere in the United Kingdom.[iv]

Significantly, Welsh tradition associates the Iron Age hilltop town on Conwy Mountain known as Castell Caer Seion with a settlement of ancient Jews. This site overlooks Conwy Bay on the north coast of Wales and lies on the ancient road between Prestatyn in Denbighshire and Bangor in Gwynedd opposite Angelsey.  In the Black Book of Caermarthen, the Welsh national bard Taliesin casually remarks in the persona of the battling hero,

When I return from Caer Seon,

From contending with Jews,

I will come to the city of Lleu and Gwidion.[v]

Lleu and Gwidion are the names of two other legendary figures; they are believed to be historical and to have lived in the early centuries of the Common Era or anterior to it.

It is hard to avoid the thought that the hilly area to the west of the town of Conwy, in North Wales was once inhabited by Jews.


[i] A. Nebel et al, "The Y Chromosome Pool of Jews as Part of the Genetic Landscape of the Middle East", American Journal of Human Genetics69.5(2001) 1095–1112. [ii] C. Capelli et al, “A Y Chromosome Census of the British Isles,”  Current Biology 13 (2003) 979–984. [iii] Bryan Sykes, Saxons, Vikings and Celts (Norton:  2007) 206, 290. [iv] “’Extraordinary’ Genetic Make-up of North-east Wales Men,” BBC News North East Wales, article retrieved Jan. 2012 at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-north-east-wales-14173910. On Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog there is speculation about whether the main sub-clade involved is Balkan or North African E; posts and comments retrieved Jan. 2012 at http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2011/07/eastern-mediterranean-marker-in.html. [v] William F. Skene, The Four Ancient Books of Wales (Edinburgh, 1868, republished 2007 by Forgotten Books) 206.
Comments

Stephen Blevins commented on 03-Apr-2012 05:02 AM

My DNA is E1b1b1, my most distant ancestor is William Blevins (Longhunter) from the area you mentioned. My autosomal DNA places my ancestors in the orkney islands of Scotland. I'm convinced that a tribe of Jews migrated from Israel to north to Scandinavia
or Denmark and may have been apart of the invasion by Vikings to Scotland before they were found in Wales as Poweys in the Northern Mountains. Blevins comes from Blethyn meaning little wolf or (Hero) look up Ap Blethyn of Gwynedd.

Belvins Descendant commented on 12-Apr-2012 02:05 PM

I was always told the Blevins came from Wales, but in checking this story out I was unable to verify it, nor could I find any substantiation of the etymology from Bleddyn ("son of wolf"). There is not a single Blevins in the Welsh census records, although
the name is found sparsely in Cheshire, Lancashire and other northern English counties. "Formby, Wales" is actually Formby in Merseyside in Lancashaire. The -dd- element in the Welsh name Bleddyn cannot be twisted into a -v-. So go figure.

Paul commented on 28-Apr-2012 08:46 PM

My mother is a descendant of Henry Cook I of Devon. His ascendants were among the first settlers of Massachusetts and Connecticut. A great Uncle, Lemuel Cook, was the oldest surviving Revolutionary War veteran when he died at 106 years of age. We recently
had my mother's autosomal dna analyzed and found strong population matches from the Balkans (Croatia, Bosnia, Macedonia, Serbia, etc.) - which was very unexpected. There was also prominent representation form Spain and Portugal - not so unexpected. In my own
18 marker test, I had one Jewish III marker, though I can't say from whom. There is no known Judaism on either side. Sounds like your article might be describing the early Cooks. Interesting...

katarina cadieux commented on 13-Dec-2013 07:36 PM

well the language of the Welsh(Cymri)alone is very Hebraic.
here are some examples: Anudon(welsh)/ Aen Adon(hebrew)(without God)
Yni all sy-dda(welsh) / Ani El Saddai(hebrew)(I am almighty God)
Llai iachu yngwyddd achau ni(welsh) / Loa yichei neged acheinu(hebrew) ("Let him not live before our brethren")
An annos(welsh)/ ain ones(hebrew)(None did compel)
the amazing to me is how similar the words look and sound, the english is the meaning for both welsh and hebrew, their meaning are the same.
the welsh are a very ancient people even their name for themselves in their language has Crimea roots which many hebrew tribes migrated to.

Dafydd Gwilym W. Gates commented on 17-Feb-2014 11:58 AM

Katarina Cadieux 13 Dec 2013 wrote some examples to show how Welsh had parralels in Hebrew. I'm a first language Welsh speaker and couldn't make sense of the Welsh examples, I'm afraid, It wasn't Welsh.
So sorry, Dafydd

Jamie commented on 25-Aug-2014 11:15 AM

I am not surprised that Jewish (Hebrew) DNA is found in Great Britain. If people read the Bible correctly and believe what it says, they will find that when the Israelites (not Jews) went into captivity for the last time as a nation,(2,000 years ago), God sent them to the northwest, "To the Isles in the sea".

Joan Coon Deary commented on 28-Nov-2014 11:15 AM

Being female, I had my brother's DNA identified by Familytree. His Haplogroup is E1b1b1. Our male-line genealogy goes back to Dutchess County, New York, around 1775 -- all Christians as far as I can tell. There are many other people who have our surname of "Coon" and they also have had their DNA identified by Familytree. Their Haplogroup begins with an "R". Can I say definitively that we are not related to them even though they have the same surname? Am I right in thinking that is it impossible for a Haplogroup to morph from an "R" to and "E" in the course of 250 years? I've always wondered if our original surname was "Cohen" that was changed to "Coon" at some point -- but I don't think you can help me with that. Thank you for any information you can give me. Regards, Joan Coon Deary


Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.





Captcha Image

 

 


Recent Posts


Tags

James Stritzel Europe Mucogee Creeks Kate Wong Cismaru Miguel Gonzalez ISOGG Rare Genes Lebanon Middle Ages surnames Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute Plato population isolates African DNA Hopi Indians Jewish novelists Old World Roots of the Cherokee DNA Fingerprint Test 23andme Celts Melungeon Heritage Association autosomal DNA Egyptians Black Dutch climate change b'nei anousim Rush Limbaugh ancient DNA prehistory Hohokam Henry IV M. J. Harper Ukraine Paleolithic Age Joel E. Harris pipe carving Mildred Gentry Chromosomal Labs Bode Technology Gunnar Thompson Thuya Sonora CODIS markers Rich Crankshaw Phyllis Starnes Nikola Tesla Neolithic Revolution American Journal of Human Genetics Cherokee Freedmen Joseph Andrew Park Wilson Ostenaco Charlemagne Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies Cocoraque Butte Scotland Jack Goins Ireland Current Anthropology religion Chauvet cave paintings Early Jews and Muslims of England and Wales (book) Wikipedia Moundbuilders Anglo-Saxons Oxford Journal of Evolution PNAS Smithsonian Magazine Kari Schroeder Hohokam Indians Chris Stringer Ashkenazi Jews genealogy Wendy Roth Tutankamun Eric Wayner NPR private allele Juanita Sims Cave art Henry VII single nucleotide polymorphism Denisovans Maronites Richard Dewhurst John Wilwol admixture Iran DNA security cannibalism Sea Peoples Britain Holocaust Database Wendell Paulson Stan Steiner methylation genetic memory Khazars Bering Land Bridge peopling of the Americas The Calalus Texts Tucson crosses mental foramen Stephen A. Leon New York Academy of Sciences epigenetics London education genetic determinism mutation rate Ripan Malhi Leicester Thruston Tablet Kurgan Culture George Starr-Bresette mitochondrial DNA Kennewick Man Harold Sterling Gladwin Asiatic Fathers of America Epigraphic Society Slovakia family history Nancy Gentry oncology Panther's Lodge Cherokee DNA Project Harry Ostrer Neanderthals John Ruskamp Middle Eastern DNA Tara MacIsaac MHC Virginia genealogy Cleopatra Sizemore Indians New York Times Tom Martin Scroft hoaxes GlobalFiler Fritz Zimmerman Anacostia Indians Melungeon Union Asian DNA Riane Eisler Henriette Mertz Indo-Europeans Jan Ravenspirit Franz Beringia haplogroup U Hadassah Magazine Sam Kean megapopulations Salt River Patrick Henry Ananya Mandal Michael Grant Tennessee ethnic markers Daily News and Analysis Majorca Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Bill Tiffee EURO DNA Fingerprint Test haplogroup M bloviators Mary Kugler Telltown Eske Willerslev HapMap Marija Gimbutas microsatellites Science Daily, Genome Biol. Evol., Eran Elhaik, Khazarian Hypothesis, Rhineland Hypothesis Bode Technology Mark Stoneking Cree Indians Rafael Falk Penny Ferguson Antonio Torroni Jews Colin Renfrew James Shoemaker Ethel Cox medicine Nadia Abu El-Haj BBCNews Melanesians New Mexico Gregory Mendel prehistoric art Elvis Presley DNA giants ethics DNA testing companies Algonquian Indians Tintagel John Butler university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Jewish contribution to world literature haplogroup H First Peoples Odessa Shields Cox Echota Cherokee Tribe of Alabama Irish Central Anasazi Solutreans Barack Obama haplogroup E Navajo Indians Austronesian, Filipinos, Australoid Waynesboro Pennsylvania Y chromosomal haplogroups genetics statistics B'nai Abraham Monya Baker Sizemore surname health and medicine Joseph Jacobs Robert C. Hyde Kari Carpenter Russia Horatio Cushman Sinti Panther's Lodge Publishers Constantine Rafinesque Les Miserables Robinson Crusoe Altai Turks Native American DNA Test Wales Melba Ketchum Old Souls in a New World Lab Corp Acadians Indian Territory Signal Hill Jewish genetics Bryan Sykes haplogroup R palatal tori Colin Pitchfork Gila River Nature Genetics Early Jews of England and Wales Cohen Modal Haplotype Olmec Secret History of the Cherokee Indians George van der Merwede Sorbs Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Grim Sleeper Y chromosome DNA Colima Puerto Rico Ancestry.com Etruscans Tucson William Byrd ged.com Pima Indians Patrick Pynes Cismar Arabic David Reich Scientific American Cancer Genome Atlas Shlomo Sand Timothy Bestor Phoenix Sasquatch Richard III Charlotte Harris Reese occipital bun National Museum of Natural History Tumamoc Hill Abenaki Indians Barnard College Johnny Depp Magdalenian culture Phoenicians Great Goddess clan symbols Alabama Oxford Nanopore FDA Applied Epistemology andrew solomon Amy Harmon Romania When Scotland Was Jewish Marie Cheng Ari Plost Arabia Central Band of Cherokee Kitty Prince of the Bear River Athabaskans aliyah Columbia University Douglas C. Wallace Charles Darwin Cornwall Roberta Estes DNA Forums Richmond California Mexico Jewish GenWeb Israel, Shlomo Sand Elizabeth DeLand Mark Thomas IntegenX Chris Tyler-Smith Cooper surname Texas A&M University far from the tree North African DNA haplogroup C ENFSI Svante Paabo Washington D.C. Arizona State University Israel Donald N. Yates Havasupai Indians Satoshi Horai haplogroup G haplogroup W human leukocyte antigens Richard Buckley Belgium Bryony Jones AP art history Jim Bentley haplogroup Z ethnicity Isabel Allende Sinaloa Dienekes Anthropology Blog Victor Hugo human migrations Melungeon Movement cancer Italy Peter Martyr Kentucky Austro-Hungary history of science Taino Indians Jalisco Life Technologies Melungeons Cajuns Anne Marie Fine DNA Fingerprint Test Ron Janke Nature Communications pheromones District of Columbia China Michoacan Population genetics Valparaiso University news breast cancer Daniel Defoe Elzina Grimwood haplogroup D Clovis Janet Lewis Crain Phillipe Charlier X chromosome Alia Garcia-Ureste Irish DNA The Nation magazine El Paso Dragging Canoe Ancient Giantns Who Ruled America King Arthur Stacy Schiff Cherokee DNA seafaring Jesse Montes Terry Gross Epoch Times Gustavo Ramirez Calderon Native American DNA DNA databases Philippa Langley Jon Entine evolution Science magazine Gravettian culture Genome Sciences Building Pueblo Indians origins of art powwows Luca Pagani DNA magazine Genie Milgrom Ziesmer, Zizmor clinical chemistry Micmac Indians Mother Qualla haplogroup T Khoisan Comanche Indians Chuetas Mohawk Hawaii Muslims in American history FOX News Hispanic ancestry Lithuania hominids New York Review of Books King Arthur, Tintagel, The Earliest Jews and Muslims of England and Wales Keros archeology Freemont Indians Virginia DeMarce Richard Lewontin phenotype alleles Louis XVI INORA Asiatic Echoes Stephen Oppenheimer Mary Settegast Finnish people Bradshaw Foundation rapid DNA testing linguistics DNA Diagnostics Center Discovery Channel Zuni Indians Peter Parham anthropology French DNA Arizona horizontal inheritance Erika Chek Hayden Silverbell Artifacts American history Illumina Sir Joshua Reynolds metis Michael Schwartz crypto-Jews Douglas Owsley haplogroup N Abraham Lincoln genomics labs human leukocyte testing Brian Wilkes Rutgers University England Los Lunas Decalogue Stone Yates surname N. Brent Kennedy Turkic DNA Tifaneg haplogroup J Basques Teresa Panther-Yates Elizabeth C. Hirschman Discover magazine immunology National Health Laboratories Charles Perou Walter Plecker Holocaust Caucasian Stony Creek Baptist Church Promega Patagonia Gypsies haplogroup B gedmatch Akhenaten myths Bulgaria Anne C. Stone French Canadians North Carolina Zizmer corn Hebrew inscriptions FBI consanguinity forensics Greeks Bigfoot Stone Age polydactylism BATWING Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America Nova Scotia Hertfordshire Smithsonian Institution Nayarit Zionism Helladic art bar mitzvah Roma People rock art race Choctaw Indians Normans Nephilim, Fritz Zimmerman Carl Zimmer Sarmatians European DNA Bureau of Indian Affairs Rebecca L. Cann India El Castillo cave paintings familial Mediterranean fever Theodore Steinberg National Geographic Daily News personal genomics Holy Roman Empire Monica Sanowar Pomponia Graecina Pueblo Grande Museum Navajo Central Band of Cherokees Alec Jeffreys mummies Russell Belk Genex Diagnostics Myra Nichols Albert Einstein College of Medicine Germany Irish history Black Irish Family Tree DNA Maui Bentley surname research David Cornish haplogroup X Maya haplogroup L population genetics Douglas Preston research University of Leicester

Archive