Richard III remains recovered

An evil man with a twisted back, his body was lost to history

 lisby1History has depicted Richard III as an evil man with a twisted back, who seized power from his own nephew following the death of his brother.

A mere two years later, Richard, the last king of York, was killed at the Battle of Bosworth fighting Henry Tudor, thus ending the War of the Roses. His body was then buried in an unknown location and, after a time, lost to history. Last year, this changed.

From beneath a car park in Leicester, emerged a skeleton. Scientists determined that it was of a male in his 20s to early 30s. Richard died at the age of 32. The skeleton also had a curved spine owing to a condition called scoliosis, which would be in-line with the historical representation of the monarch.

The body had suffered from many head wounds, two of which would have been fatal. one was most certainly caused by a blade. There was also sign of injuries clearly intending to humiliate. This all pointed to the conclusion that this person had died in battle.

Based on this discovery, academics began to get excited. Although there was no sign of a withered arm, or the other abnormalities attributed to him in the history books, the signs pointed to this being Richard III.

But how did they prove it? Firstly, carbon dating was used to check that it was from the correct time period.

When an organism dies, it has a certain ratio of the carbon isotopes 14C and 12C. As 14C decays, this ratio decreases at the rate of the half life of 14C (the amount of time it takes to decay by half).

There is no way for the 14C to be replenished, therefore the time period in which the organism died can be determined based on the amount of 14C that is there at the time of analysis.

The other, and most conclusive piece of evidence, is mitochondrial DNA. This is DNA found in the mitochondria (which convert the chemical energy of food into a form that cells can use) and which consists of about 16,000 base pairs. It is passed on solely down the maternal line.

Scientists found two living descendents of Richard III and compared their DNA with that found on the skeleton, with promising findings.

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