DNA Proves Remains Belong To King Richard III
February 4, 2013

Testing Confirms That Skeleton Is That Of King Richard III

[ Watch the Video: The Search For King Richard III ]

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

DNA testing has proven “beyond reasonable doubt” that human remains discovered beneath a parking lot in the East Midlands region of England are those of King Richard III, UK scientists announced on Monday.

The skeleton, which was discovered last September in the foundations of an old church in Leicester, matched the DNA of descendants of the 15th century Plantagenet, who was crowned king of England in July 1483, according to BBC News reports.

In addition, the bones were found to be those belonging to a man in his late 20s or early 30s (Richard was 32 at the time of his death), and were carbon dated to a period between 1455 and 1540 (Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485), the British news agency added.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that, beyond reasonable doubt, the individual exhumed at Greyfriars... is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England," Richard Buckley of the University of Leicester, who lead the research, told reporters, according to Nick Britten and Andrew Hough of The Telegraph.

According to Britten and Hough, the find is considered to be "truly astonishing." The reporters added that the evidence "provides a highly convincing case for identification as Richard III" and that "the skeleton was the king as far as all scientific tests could prove."

“The announcement, which will now be published in leading journals, provoked wild applause. It came 24 hours after an image of the battle-scarred skull of Richard III was released for the first time.”

According to New York Times reporters John F. Burns and Alan Cowell, some of the evidence used to support the researchers´ conclusion came from DNA testing completed by geneticist Turi King. Genetic material taken from the skeleton was compared to that of two descendants of the monarch´s family — one of whom was a son of a 16th-generation niece of Richard III´s and the other who asked to remain anonymous.

“The skeleton, with an arrowhead in its back and bearing other signs of battle wounds, was exhumed in the ruins of an ancient priory. It was found in the same place as historians say Richard III was buried after perishing at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485,” Burns and Cowell wrote. “At the news conference on Monday, researchers showed photographs of the skeleton as they found it, stuffed into a grave without a coffin, clearly displaying curvature of the spine as chronicled in contemporary accounts of Richard III´s appearance.”

“The researchers said that the body displayed 10 wounds, 8 of them in the skull and some likely to have caused death, possibly by a blow from a halberd, a kind medieval weapon with an ex-like head on a long pole,” they added. “Other wounds seem to have been inflicted after his death to humiliate the monarch after his armor was stripped and he was paraded naked over the back of a horse, the researchers said.”

The excavation, which began last August, was a collaborative effort between the University of Leicester, the Leicester City Council, and the Richard III Society, the university explained in a website dedicated to the project. They called it “one of the most ambitious archaeological projects ever attempted,” as they attempted to not only find the 500-plus year told remains of the monarch, but also the lost cathedral where he was said to have been buried following his death on the battlefield.

Prior to the official announcement, an image of the skull was released by the university early Monday morning. In an interview with BBC News, Dr. Jo Appleby of the University's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, who was the head of efforts to analyze the skull, said that the skull was “in good condition, although fragile, and was able to give us detailed information about this individual.”

“It has been CT scanned at high resolution in order to allow us to investigate interesting features in as much detail as possible,” she added. "In order to determine whether this individual is Richard III we have built up a biological profile of its characteristics. We have also carefully examined the skeleton for traces of a violent death.”