February 6, 2013

Update on the Dick

Filed under: Forensic archaeology, Historic — acagle @ 8:00 pm

Richard, that is. Some are skeptical as well: King Richard Found? Some Archaeologists Skeptical Of DNA Evidence

But some scientists struck a more sober note, warning that ancient DNA analysis is subject to contamination, and grumbling that the results were revealed via press conference prior to peer-review by fellow researchers. [Gallery: The Search for Richard III]

“The DNA results presented today are too weak, as they stand, to support the claim that DNA is actually from Richard III,” said Maria Avila, a computational biologist at the Center for GeoGenetics at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. “Perhaps more in-depth DNA analysis summed to the archaeological and osteological [bone analysis] results would make a round story.”

. . .

“Before being convinced of ANY aDNA study, it should be explicit that all possible cautions were taken to avoid potential contamination,” Avila wrote in an email to LiveScience. “It is just part of the protocol.” (aDNA refers to ancient DNA.)

Avila also warned that people could share mitochondrial DNA even if they didn’t share a family tree. To be confident that Ibsen is related to the owner of the disinterred skeleton, the researchers must present statistics showing how common the DNA profile is in the United Kingdom, she said. Otherwise, the similarities between Ibsen’s mitochondrial DNA and the skeleton’s could be coincidental.

I dunno, the contamination thing would really only be an issue if the mtDNA is a common one — otherwise, what are the chances it would be contaminated with a very close match? Not that I’m going to make a stink about it. . . .

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