DNA Evidence Could Identify The Crew From The Lost Franklin Expedition

Old illustration of Captain Sir John Franklin's North Arctic exploration. Created by Grandsire and Laly, published on Le Tour du Monde, Paris, 1860. Marzolino/Shutterstock

Bizarrely, the study found pieces of the same person were “located approximately 160 meters [524 feet] from one another.” This could be due to either carnivorous animal activity, the weather, or – as lead author Douglas Stenton told Live Science – perhaps a botched burial attempted by an early rescue crew.

Four of the samples were also identified as females. This is particularly strange as all the ship’s documentation said there were no women on board and, furthermore, women couldn’t serve in the Royal Navy at this time. While the authors say there is a strong chance that this is incorrect, they also acknowledge there is historical evidence of women sneaking their way onto navy ships by dressing as men. Although they suspect it's unlikely in this case due to “the improbability of so many women serving secretly on this expedition.”

There’s still much more work to be done before we finally get the whole story behind this doomed expedition. Nevertheless, this DNA analysis is a crucial bank of information, which other studies can now draw upon. The study authors even hope to identify the living descendants of the crew. So, if you had a great-great grandfather who mysteriously fell off the radar some 150 years ago, stay tuned.

[H/T: Live Science]

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