January 06, 2006

Mozart's skull and the DNA of the famous

Scientists are tight-lipped about the genetic testing of the skull believed to be Mozart's. My bet is that it will be his skull. Resarchers have compared him with his maternal grandmother, so I predict that this will be an mtDNA-based study.

So, will Wolfgang Amadeus join the ranks of the famous past and present whose patrilineal or matrilineal haplogroup is recorded? So far we have Genghis Khan [Y: C*(xC3c)], Somerled [Y: R1a1], Thomas Jefferson [Y: K2], the Manchu dynast Nurhachi [Y: C3c] (*), the founder of the Uí Néill dynasty [Y: R1b], the Tyrolean Ice Man [K], Cheddar Man [mt: U5a], Tsar Nicolas [mt: T], Spencer Wells [Y: R1b], and of course none others than Matt Lauer [Y: J2], Katie Couric [mt: K], Ann Curry [mt: N9a], and Al Roker [Y: E*(xE3a) ?] of the Today Show.


Well the "clear result" that the scientists advertised is actually this:
The scientists said on Austrian television Sunday that the skeletons do not match the skull, and that the skeletons are also unrelated - creating a whole new mystery of who is buried the Mozart family crypt.
(*) Whose fictional remains make a cameo in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom for those interested in movie trivia.


See also Famous DNA.


More here.

“I am quite disappointed that the mystery continues,” said Parsons. “All the samples from the three who were believed to be relatives of Mozart all had different mitochondrial DNA from each other, and from the Mozart skull. So if any one of them is an actual maternal relative of Mozart, it means that the skull is not Mozart’s. We don’t know if that is the case so the final analysis is inconclusive.

“We have attained definitive results from the skull,” said Parsons. “In the future, if anyone comes forward with an authentic matrilineal relative or a paternal relative, we now have ‘y’ chromosomal data and we will be in a position to make a confirmation. It’s considered to be known where Mozart’s sister Nannerl is buried, but I don’t know if there are any plans in Austria to act on that information and work another archeological exhumation.”

After several months of testing, the true identity of the skull remains inconclusive to be that of world-renowned 18th-century classical musical composer Mozart.

1 comment:

Pierre-François Puech said...

Not all were convinced : Herbert Ullrich, a forensic pathologist who has studied the skeletons of famous Germans and Austrians, said he was convinced the Mozart skull was of someone other than Mozart. "I examined a cast of the skull in 1999,” Ullrich said. “All the characteristics of the skull suggested it belonged to a woman“.

Army Helps DNA Scientists Unravel Mozart Mystery: Department of Defense scientists at the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory, a division of the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Rockville, Md., were presented with a small tooth from the skull to be analyzed.
“Our results definitively refute that the skull is female,” said Parsons. “The skull is of a male. It was the powder located in the center of the tooth that the genetic material was gathered from.
“As forensic scientists, the only optimism you’re going to have is that you’ll find out the actual answer, no matter what that answer is,” Parsons said.( Ken Hall [Army News Service, 10 January 2006] http://www.military.com/features/0,15240,85019,00.html).
In conclusion: Herbert Ullrich was misleaded by the femine appearence of Mozart and the forensic anthropological identification is free from doubt, the Mozarteum skull belongs to Mozart.