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United Kingdom Science

DNA Confirms Parking Lot Remains Belong To King Richard III 212

Posted by timothy
from the it's-just-like-poltergeist-for-drivers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It turns out that the remains found in a parking lot in Leicester, England belong to none other than King Richard III, one of the most reviled monarchs of English history. Scientists announced on Monday that they were able to confirm the identity of the skeleton through DNA testing."
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DNA Confirms Parking Lot Remains Belong To King Richard III

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  • Oh dear... (Score:5, Funny)

    by magarity (164372) on Monday February 04, 2013 @10:22AM (#42785521)

    Oh dear, Richard the third.

  • the hump is what gave it away.

    • >>the hump is what gave it away.

      Scoliosis AND the fact that his feet (or at least the bones of his feet) were missing.
      Maybe the coffin that was ordered was a little bit to small and someone took off the feet.
      Yet another mystery that needs to be solved by future time-travellers!
    • this researcher is going to get quite rich off guessing the location of the remains. he'll say "the hunch paid off!"

  • Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm (69642) on Monday February 04, 2013 @10:26AM (#42785547)

    I haven't gotten a straight answer from MSM accounts as to why they even suspected this might be KR3.

    Certainly, every time someone is dug up they don't say, "Oh look we found a body, better test it to see if this one is King Richard III maybe its him this time?"

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2013 @10:32AM (#42785581)

      From TFA

      "but the location of his grave was lost when the building was demolished in the 16th century.
      A team of historians, though, were determined to find the body. Archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar on the site of the former priory, and were able to locate the skeleton beneath a parking lot after only a few days of digging."

    • by GiMP (10923)

      The suspicion was based on where they were digging and the presence of a humpback. Interestingly, many believed the hump was a fabrication by his enemies and used a tool of propaganda. Turns out: he really did have one.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by lochnessie (1291986) on Monday February 04, 2013 @10:34AM (#42785621)
      From TFA: "...his reign lasted just 26 months and ended with his death on the battlefield at Bosworth in 1485. He was given a low-key burial in the church of Greyfriars in the center of Leicester, but the location of his grave was lost when the building was demolished in the 16th century. A team of historians, though, were determined to find the body. Archaeologists used ground-penetrating radar on the site of the former priory, and were able to locate the skeleton beneath a parking lot after only a few days of digging."
    • by sumdumass (711423)

      More then likely, he was found with jewelry or something that gave the hint.

      My question is, why would he be buried under a parking lot? I mean without looking up how he met his end, I would assume royalty, whether hated or not, would have been buried somewhere that we knew of and could simply say, permit to build X denied because it's on a grave yard.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

      by SoTerrified (660807) on Monday February 04, 2013 @10:40AM (#42785675)

      I haven't gotten a straight answer from MSM accounts as to why they even suspected this might be KR3.

      1) They have DNA from a descendant of King Richard III. They were able to get a DNA sample from the skeleton. It's a match.
      2) Skeleton is a man in his early 30s. King Richard III died at 32.
      3) History indicated King Richard III suffered from scoliosis. Skeleton has curved back consistent with scoliosis.
      4) Skeleton was killed by blows to the head, then suffered a sword thrust upward through the buttock. King Richard III died due to a head wound, and as a war leader, it is consistent that his body would've been subject to 'humiliation wounds'.
      5) They knew King Richard had been buried beneath the church of Greyfriars in the centre of Leicester. However that building was destroyed so the exact location was unknown. However the place the body was found was one of the potential sites of that structure.
      6) Bone analysis showed a high protein diet, consistent with nobility of the era.

      Why it might not be King Richard III?
      1) History indicates he had a withered right arm. The skeleton shows the right arm to be completely normal.

      But really, the DNA match is the smoking gun. It proves that the skeleton must've shared a maternal ancestor with King Richard III, and combined with the other evidence, it seems very likely that it's certainly King Richard III

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Motard (1553251) on Monday February 04, 2013 @10:58AM (#42785825)

        Good. Now we can clone him and open Plantagenet Park.

      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

        by Wansu (846) on Monday February 04, 2013 @11:06AM (#42785887)

        "How do you know he's king?"

        "He hasn't got shit all over him."

        -- Monty Python, The Holy Grail

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        The withered right arm was contrived by Shakespeare. Many historians never believed it to be the case.

        • by hedwards (940851)

          Well, that wouldn't be surprising. Shakespeare was writing after that had happened when the Tudors were running things. So, making Richard III worse than he was probably was a good career move. But, until now, we didn't really know for sure as anybody writing during Richard III time would probably omit that for the same reasons that people afterwards would be more inclined to concoct something like that.

          But, now that the body has been located, the truth is revealed.

          • Re:Why? (Score:5, Informative)

            by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday February 04, 2013 @11:52AM (#42786321) Journal

            Many scholars over the past few centuries have come to the conclusion that all of Shakespeare's historical plays of English kings were largely Tudor propaganda. Remember that Henry VII's claim to the throne was somewhat dubious and that even in his granddaughter Elizabeth's time, there was some sensitivity over how the Tudors had come to the throne. Building up the grandeur of Henry VII's ancestors whilst simultaneously making Richard III into almost the most loathsome creature in the history of the the theater was all part and parcel of the Tudor's solidifying their claim to the throne.

            Of course the ultimate irony is that after Henry VII, the Tudor line just withered away and Henry VIII had no legitimate grandchildren, and thus the crown got passed on to the Stuarts.

      • Why should he have had a withered right arm?

        There was a tennis player around 50 years ago called Rod Laver. He played and practiced so much that his right arm was twice as thick as his left. Richard was similar - except that it was because of sword use. I don't know about tennis players but a lot of the nobility back then trained that much. Richard was an excellent general and led from the front. That approach pretty much died with Richard. Henry VII was a politician whose army was provided by relativ

        • by Andyvan (824761)
          Rod Laver was/is left-handed.
        • Could simply have been the way he held his arm. Severe scoliosis (and the skeletal remains show it as about as severe as it gets) might have had him holding his arm cranked way in.

          Also there is some speculation (from the longbows salvaged from the Mary Rose) that growing up and training under heavier and heavier longbows could have caused asymmetric development of one's arms. Those longbows were 150 lb draw! Modern sporting longbows are generally 50-70lb draw. Those 150lb longbows must have had amazing a

      • He didn't have a withered arm. He made guests touch his "funny arm", which back then was referred to as the whither arm.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Vreejack (68778) on Monday February 04, 2013 @10:48AM (#42785745)

      He would have been buried under a large paving stone in the floor of the church. It would have been engraved with his name, but was probably lost when the church was demolished. The Tudors had no interest in preserving his memory, which was a threat to their legitimacy.

    • by milkmage (795746)

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-21063882 [bbc.co.uk]

      However, a team of enthusiasts and historians managed to trace the likely area - and, crucially, after painstaking genealogical research, they found a 17th-generation descendant of Richard's sister with whose DNA they could compare any remains.

      Joy Ibsen, from Canada, died several years ago but her son, Michael, who now works in London, provided a sample.

    • by bob_jordan (39836)

      Maybe it was just a hunch.

      Bob.

    • by milkmage (795746)

      my other comment was a cut/paste failure

      basically, they had a pretty good idea the location they were digging was the church where he was buried

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-21063882 [bbc.co.uk]

      "In August 2012, an excavation began in a city council car park - the only open space remaining in the likely area - which quickly identified buildings connected to the church."

    • by dave420 (699308)
      If you didn't find the answer, you were not looking very hard! It's been thoroughly discussed on the BBC for ages, for example. Don't blame the "MSM" for your laziness! The fact they matched the DNA of this body to a living relative of the king means they clearly had some clue as to what they were doing...
    • by Joce640k (829181)

      I haven't gotten a straight answer from MSM accounts as to why they even suspected this might be KR3.

      Did you, ummmm, try reading the article?

      Radical, I know...

  • by Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) on Monday February 04, 2013 @10:30AM (#42785575)

    "Validation! Validation! My kingdom for validated parking!"

  • Well at least today, we have inbred royals who don't pose the same sort of threat.

  • but surely he deserved better than to be buried in a parking lot!

    *ducks*

  • "Currently, plans are underway for a reburial ceremony for the remains."

    Well yeah, but where? Back under the parking lot where he's been resting comfortably for centuries? Another outlying low-key area where he'll be lost again until the 28th century?

    • "Currently, plans are underway for a reburial ceremony for the remains."

      Well yeah, but where? Back under the parking lot where he's been resting comfortably for centuries? Another outlying low-key area where he'll be lost again until the 28th century?

      That's right British people, make sure this murderer of the true heir to the English throne gets a royal burial with all the pomp and ceremony due him. In other words, dump his body in the nearest sewer.

    • by wjousts (1529427)
      Leicester Cathedral. Which I'm assuming they are not likely to lose track of.
      • Not likely. Of course they did lose track of the church he was buried under the first time....

        • by wjousts (1529427)

          They didn't have Google Maps then.

          Also, it seems unlikely that the current or future government of England will actively try and erase him from history again.

        • Not likely. Of course they did lose track of the church he was buried under the first time....

          I don't think the current crop of Windsors quite as concerned about a threat from the Archbishop as the Tudors were of the Pope. They're unlikely to dissolve Leicester Cathedral. (Acid Rain might, but the Windsors won't).

  • ...my kingdom for a parking lot!
  • by tylikcat (1578365) on Monday February 04, 2013 @10:46AM (#42785729)

    "Most reviled"... but also among the most defended (though the former lead to the latter).

    Not that I'm particular thrilled with the idea of kings in general, but most everything bad about him was written by people with a vested interest in running him down.

    • by Vlad_the_Inhaler (32958) on Monday February 04, 2013 @11:31AM (#42786091) Homepage

      He was responsible for the North of England while his brother was king. There were laws protecting the weak from the strong, laws which were habitually ignored. He changed that and as the king's brother had the muscle to make it stick. When the French persuaded the Scottish king to distract the English by conducting raids in the border areas, he took an army to Edinburgh and did some serious damage there. The people in the north loved him. Unfortunately the Duke of Northumberland did not like the competition and betrayed Richard. The City of York tried to provide an army to support Richard but Northumberland was the one who should have led it and he simply left those soldiers behind so he could change sides.
      The new king Henry sent Northumberland out to raise taxes. His bodyguard left him unprotected. Commoners dragged him from his horse and killed him. Two generations after Richard's death, the king's reprasentative in the North was complaining that he was being measured against Richard and no-one could live up to that example.

      Who killed the Princes in the Tower? It may have been Richard, it was most certainly not the knight who subsequently confessed to it but it was probably Lord Buckingham. He was Richard's must trusted subordinate, had access and seems to have done the deed immediately before he rebelled against Richard and tried to become king himself. He was utterly outclassed as a general and his army was no match for Richard's.

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Monday February 04, 2013 @11:57AM (#42786393) Journal

        The killing of the princes was a dark deed, and while some suggest that perhaps Henry VII might have had a hand in it, it does seem largely to point to Richard. But all in all, Richard was, by the standards of the 15th century, a pretty enlightened man, and most certainly in the North his name was far more honored than it was in the rest of England.

        Richard probably did some pretty awful things, but a survey of Medieval kings will show anyone interested in history that Richard was no worse than many and a good deal better than some.

    • by Xtifr (1323)

      When I was a kid, I knew some people that wrote a pro-RIII propoganda song (yes, my parents hung out with some strange folk). I still remember the beginning:

      "When goodly King Richard--that's Richard of Glouster--
      Ascended the throne, did he;
      He made good his promise to lower the taxes,
      And set all the debtors free."

  • by WilyCoder (736280) on Monday February 04, 2013 @10:48AM (#42785743)

    King of Parking Lot Castle III: When I first came here, this was all parking lot. Everyone said I was daft to build a castle on a parking lot, but I built in all the same, just to show them. It sank into the parking lot. So I built a second one. That sank into the parking lot. So I built a third. That burned down, fell over, then sank into the parking lot. But the fourth one stayed up. And that's what you're going to get, Lad, the strongest castle in all of England.

  • A corpse is a corpse, of course of course..
  • by fredrated (639554) on Monday February 04, 2013 @10:58AM (#42785823) Journal

    as to why he was buried in a parking lot.

  • But all I got was this lousy king.
  • by Chiller (1883) on Monday February 04, 2013 @11:00AM (#42785845) Homepage

    Hey, King Richard III, the DNA says the remains of this here parking lot are yours.

    • "his remains were found in a parking lot"

      I'm thinking "WTF who dumped KR3 in a parking lot"

      Title should read "lost remains of KR3 found under parking lot"

      Then I could have come to the appropriate conclusion without having to read the article, "Oh, BFD..."

  • On the BBC website when I looked at it a few minutes ago, underneath the teaser for:

    Richard III - Bones found in Car Park

    was the headline:

    Man arrested in shooting death
  • From the article:

    With the new evidence, though, researchers were able to find a DNA match between the maternal DNA of the descendants and the remains. It turned out that the skeleton had indeed once been Richard III.

    How does the maternal DNA match "prove" it is Richard III versus a relative?

    • by bobbied (2522392)

      It doesn't, it just says that the corpse was closely related to someone who is known to be a descendant of Richard III.

      It's all the other evidence that starts cutting down the odds that it might be somebody else... Obvious injury consistent with accepted cause of death. Evidence that indicates medical conditions consistent with known medical conditions of Richard III. Location consistent with the accepted possible burial locations. And most of all, no other known possible bodies that match DNA and what

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885) on Monday February 04, 2013 @01:13PM (#42787181)

        It doesn't, it just says that the corpse was closely related to someone who is known to be a descendant of Richard III.

        It's all the other evidence that starts cutting down the odds that it might be somebody else... Obvious injury consistent with accepted cause of death. Evidence that indicates medical conditions consistent with known medical conditions of Richard III. Location consistent with the accepted possible burial locations. And most of all, no other known possible bodies that match DNA and what we know about this guy from history.

        Of course, one can always argue the possibility that this is not Richard III, just like they argue other silly stuff...

        I don't doubt that it isn't Richard III, I am taking exception with the media saying the DNA proves it is Richard the III. As you point out, the DNA, since it is maternal DNA, is one more piece of evidence, that when taken as a whole show the probability of this being somebody else is unlikely, but it is not proof. As I stated in a different post, science is about facts, then the reporting of science should be factual, too.

        • by bobbied (2522392)

          You have a good point, but in this case, the DNA evidence was the last bit of evidence that folks have been waiting for. Where the DNA evidence is not proof alone, it is the last piece of the proof. Often we say "Well that proves it!" about a single fact when really there is a whole series of facts which must be true before the final fact removes doubt. So I don't see the statement that the DNA test proves it is Richard III to be false or worthy of critique.

          Now if you wish to take on the DNA proves *eve

          • Now if you wish to take on the DNA proves *everything* mystique,

            Yes -- once you get past the "anything of science is magical" point and into the actual science it's okay to challenge things, to accept that a good result is "mostly sure" and that you don't need absolute philosophical certainty to get excited about a fact.

        • by cusco (717999)
          science is about facts, then the reporting of science should be factual, too.

          Unfortunately the court stenographers who pass for journalists these days wouldn't know a scientific theory from a bible quote. It's really sad what passes for science reporting today. I was going through the garage and came across a pile of Scientific American magazines from the late '80s. Big, thick magazine with lots of in-depth articles written by the people who actually did the research, with tons of charts, piles of d
    • by corbettw (214229)

      My guess would be that anyone in his maternal line or born from either of his sisters have known gravesites. Since his was the only unknown one, a simple process of elimination would prove it's him.

      This is merely postulating, but seems reasonable.

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        My guess would be that anyone in his maternal line or born from either of his sisters have known gravesites. Since his was the only unknown one, a simple process of elimination would prove it's him.

        This is merely postulating, but seems reasonable.

        I don't doubt that it is probably him. I doubt that they can prove it is him by maternal DNA unless it was a case of we know that he is one of these corpses and only one of them had the maternal DNA. However that is not the case here. What they have is the skeletal remains of a man that is related through a common ancestor (mother). It isn't proof. It less the probability that it is not him. Proof would be if we had a known sample of his DNA, say a lock of hair and the skeletal remains matched the known s

        • Scientific thinking for how the mtDNA proves who the skeleton is can be found on the University of Leicester dedicated website [le.ac.uk].

          • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

            Scientific thinking for how the mtDNA proves who the skeleton is can be found on the University of Leicester dedicated website [le.ac.uk].

            From the link you posted:

            This means that Richard III, Edward IV and Anne of York all had the same mtDNA – from their mother, Cecily Neville – and as long as Anne’s daughters continued to produce daughters of their own (highly likely in an age when eight to ten children was common!), the mtDNA will have been passed down those lines of descent.

            Another advantage of mtDNA is that there are many mitochondria within each cell. DNA starts to degrade after death but with so many copies of the mtDNA, there is a good chance of being able to sequence it – even after 527 years.

            Consequently, if the remains found at Greyfriars are indeed Cecily Neville’s son Richard III, the mtDNA present should match that of her great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson Michael Ibsen – because there are no males in the line of descent from Cecily to Michael.

            I understand the science very well, I am not questioning it. But, if you notice in the last sentence, the one beginning with "Consequently..." the proof relies on their not being any males in the line of descent from Cecily to Michael. I don't have a problem with that since we know that there were such accurate records kept for children born out of wedlock and illicit unions back in those times As such, even though there are no males between Richard III and Michael Ibsen, is it n

    • by tbird81 (946205)

      How do we do the devil didn't put it there to trick us?

  • "I think we have spotted Dick!"
  • "They paved Plantagenet and put up a parking lot."

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