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Scientists use DNA testing to provide conclusive evidence of King Richard’s III sleletal remains

The human skeletal remains that were dug up in a parking lot in the city Leicester in 2012 have been declared beyond a reasonable doubt to be England’s King Richard III, according to scientists at the University of Leicester in London.

In a Dec. 3 Associated Press (AP) news report, regarding a new study performed by university, scientists compared DNA from the skeleton to living relatives and analyzed DNA data identifying eye and hair color, which they matched to the earliest known portrait of the king. The analysis of the king showed a curved spine and the injuries that killed him, which was on a battlefield in 1485.

“Richard can be likened to a missing person’s case,” said Turi King, a geneticist at the University of Leicester who led the research. “The probability that this is Richard is 99.999 percent,” she said. When King and colleagues compared the skeleton’s DNA obtained from the ground-up powder of one tooth and a leg bone to samples provided by a 14th cousin on Richard’s maternal side, they found a perfect match.

According to the AP report, based on the skeleton’s DNA, King and colleagues hypothesized that Richard had blue eyes and blond hair in childhood, which darkened with age. With no contemporary paintings of the king available, they compared their findings to the earliest known painting of him, which depicts the monarch with light brown hair and blue eyes, painted about 25 years after his death. Scientists also compared the skeleton’s DNA to samples from living relatives on Richard’s father’s side. They found no match, a discovery that could throw the nobility of some royals into question.

Kevin Schurer, pro vice chancellor of the University of Leicester and another study author, told the AP that claims to the throne are based on more than simply having royal blood and also rest on other things such as battlefield victories and royal marriages. He said England’s current royal family — which is related to Richard’s sister and to the House of Tudor — should not be worried. “We are not in any way indicating that Her Majesty (Elizabeth II) shouldn’t be on the throne,” Schurer said.

The university’s research was published Dec. 2 in the journal, Nature Communications.