After eight and a half decades, there was little left of the child's body. Only a small piece of wrist bone and the crowns of three tiny baby teeth had survived the inclement weather and damp, slightly acidic soil.In the spring of 2002, when Parr and Ruffman determined that the child was not Gosta Paulson based on a mismatch between the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) obtained from the bone shard and DNA provided by a maternally-linked Paulson relative, the teeth became more significant in the identification efforts. Dr. E. J. Molto, an anthropologist and the director of the Paleo-DNA Laboratory at Lakehead University, suggested that the three teeth belonged to "quite a young child". [...]
Index card from 1912 describing the Unknown Child On April 20-23 1912, on its mission from Halifax to salvage remains from the Titanic, the crew of the cable ship Mackay-Bennett pulled 306 bodies from the frigid waters of the north Atlantic. Only one of them, body No. 4, was that of a child. At the time, the best that forensic identification could offer was the observations, recorded on an index card, that the child was a boy, about two years of age, probably a third-class passanger.Since no one came to claim the baby, the crew of the Mackay-Bennett took responsibility for the child's remains, arranging a beautiful funeral for him at [...]
The best part of our projects is the good friendships we form with the people whose lives we touch. On our recent trip to Ireland, Andy and I visited with Maurice Conway and his family in Co. Limerick. Maurice provided the DNA match that confirmed that the remains found in the wreck of Northwest Flight 4422 were those of his distant cousin Francis Joseph van Zandt. During our time together, Maurice took us to the old Conway farm where Frank's mother Margaret Conway was born and grew up. We walked the road she walked with her sisters and brothers as they started from home for America. And of course we paid our respects at the Conway [...]
I just spent the evening reviewing the male and female haplogroups of Benjaman's 23 and Me matches that are predicted to be at the 3rd and 4th cousins levels. I was hoping to find a geographical pattern that might indicate his origins. Unfortunately, the haplogroups of his matches do not reveal too much information because of their variety. His male haplogroups are mostly R1b1b2a and its downstream subclades, with one I1* [European], one Q1a3a [Native American], one E1b1a8a [African America], and one G2a [Turkey and the Mediterranean]. His female haplogroups are quite varied. These include HV0 and various subclades of H1, H5, and H7, also subclade U2, various subclades of U5, one T1, two [...]
Our blog would not be complete without a mention of The Hand in the Snow. This was our first big military identification case with the Armed Forces DNA ID Laboratory, performed with a dream team of top forensic scientists. Our successful identification of the frozen arm and hand found in the Alaska glacier as belonging to crash victim Francis Joseph van Zandt was featured in 300 newspapers worldwide, and will be published as a feature article in Scientific American in the next few months.