What did our ancestors look like?
A new method of establishing hair and eye colour from modern forensic samples can also be used to identify details from ancient human remains, finds a new study published in BioMed Central's open access journal Investigative Genetics. The HIrisPlex DNA analysis system was able to reconstruct hair and eye colour from teeth up to 800 years old, including the Polish General Wladyslaw Sikorski (1881 to 1943) confirming his blue eyes and blond hair. A team of researchers from Poland and the Netherlands, who recently developed the HIrisPlex system for forensic analysis, have now shown that this system is sufficiently robust to successfully work on older and more degraded samples from human remains such as teeth and bones. The system looks at 24 DNA polymorphisms (naturally occurring variations) which can be used to predict eye and hair colour.
Dr Wojciech Branicki, from the Institute of Forensic Research and Jagielonian University, Kraków, who led this study together with Prof Manfred Kayser, from the Erasmus University Rotterdam, explained, "This system can be used to solve historical controversies where colour photographs or other records are missing. HIrisPlex was able to confirm that General Wladyslaw Sikorski, who died in a plane crash in 1943, had the blue eyes and blond hair present in portraits painted years after his death. Some of our samples were from unknown inmates of a World War II prison. In these cases HIrisPlex helped to put physical features to the other DNA evidence."
For medieval samples, where DNA is even more degraded, this system was still able to predict eye and hair colour (for the most degraded DNA samples eye colour alone), identifying one mysterious woman buried in the crypt of the Benedictine Abbey in Tyniec near Kraków, sometime during the 12th-14th centuries, as having dark blond/brown hair and brown eyes.
Source: BioMed Central Limited
- Hair color of unknown offenders is no longer a secretMon, 3 Jan 2011, 11:04:44 EST
- Forensic science used to determine who's who in pre-Columbian PeruMon, 23 Apr 2012, 4:04:11 EDT
- Naturally blond hair in Solomon Islanders rooted in native gene, Stanford study findsThu, 3 May 2012, 17:12:42 EDT
- New use for human hairMon, 29 Dec 2008, 10:57:35 EST
- Analysis of Copernicus putative remains support identityTue, 7 Jul 2009, 10:43:58 EDT
- Investigative Genetics: Forensic Science Can Discover Hair, Eye Color From Medieval Remainsfrom Scientific BloggingTue, 15 Jan 2013, 17:50:52 EST
- DNA reveals eye, hair color from remainsfrom UPIMon, 14 Jan 2013, 20:30:39 EST
- DNA can tell ancient human hair, eye colorfrom MSNBC: ScienceMon, 14 Jan 2013, 15:00:43 EST
- What Ancient Humans May Have Looked Like Revealedfrom Live ScienceMon, 14 Jan 2013, 12:30:30 EST
- What did our ancestors look like? Hair and eye color can be determined for ancient human remainsfrom Science DailySun, 13 Jan 2013, 21:00:20 EST
- What did our ancestors look like?from PhysorgSun, 13 Jan 2013, 19:00:28 EST