It’s Really Richard

Richard IIIBattled-scarred bones found under an English parking lot two years ago really do belong to the medieval King Richard III, according to a new analysis of genetic and genealogical evidence.

“The evidence is overwhelming that these are indeed the remains of Richard III,” University of Leicester geneticist Turi King said during a press conference.

Just how overwhelming? King and colleagues put pretty astounding odds on their claim: Taken together, the genetic, genealogical and archaeological evidence show that there’s a 6.7 million to 1 (or 99.99 percent) chance that the 500-year-old skeleton is the king’s.

The new research into Richard’s genes also revealed that the king had blue eyes and blond hair, at least in childhood. The findings were published today (Dec. 2) in the journal Nature Communications.

The king in the car park

Richard III, the last king of the House of York, died at age 32 during the 1485 Battle of Bosworth, the final fight of the Wars of the Roses, which saw the Tudor dynasty take over the British throne. Historic records indicate that Richard was buried at a monestery called Greyfriars in Leicester. But after the dissolution of the monastery in 1538, its location, and thus the location of Richard’s grave, was lost to history.

In August 2012, a team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester renewed the hunt for Richard’s final resting place. They began excavating a parking lot in Leicester and soon found traces of the lost monastery.

By mid-September, the archaeologists found a skeleton in the monastery’s choir that seemed to be a promising candidate for Richard. The king was said to have had uneven shoulders, and this skeleton had signs of the spinal disorder scoliosis. The bones also had battle wounds, including fatal blows to the skull, which matched accounts of Richard’s death.

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