Friday, 12 March 2004

Columbus' DNA

Crescateer Beth Plocharczyk wonders how scientists will test whether or not Christopher Columbus’ remains lie in Seville, rather than in the Dominican Republic as previously thought. She asks:

If anyone knows how a confirmed DNA sample from Christopher Columbus is available for reference, please email me. I’m utterly stumped and dying to find out.

I doubt they actually have a DNA sample from Columbus. However, my understanding is that you can use DNA samples from known descendents for this purpose, in much the same way that paternity testing works; this is how, for example, the Sally Hemmings theory was substantiated a few years back (although it didn’t dispositively show that the Thomas Jefferson was the father).