Monthly Archives: April 2019

Novel DNA test to accurately identify WWII soldiers

Scientists have developed a novel DNA test for missing soldiers from historic battles, that may help accurately identify casualties from World War II.
More than 25,000 Australian soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice have no known grave, and thousands of those are in the Asia-Pacific area, according to the researchers from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia.

How many species on Earth? A simple question that’s hard to answer

You’d think it would be a simple piece of biological accounting – how many distinct species make up life on Earth?
But the answer may come as a bit of a shock.

DNA reveals megalithic tombs were family graves

DNA testing of teeth found in megalithic tombs older than the pyramids has revealed how family members as much as 12 generations apart were buried together by our Stone Age ancestors.
A new international study confirmed for the first time through genetic analysis that megalithic tombs, which have always been shrouded in mystery, contain many closely related individuals.

Italians try to crack Leonardo da Vinci DNA code with lock of hair

Two Italian experts are set to perform a DNA test on a lock of hair that they say might have belonged to Leonardo da Vinci.

A simple approach to dating bones

In the late 1990s, as an anthropology PhD student at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Ann Ross travelled to Bosnia to help identify casualties of war. In her current role as head of the Human Identification and Forensic Analysis Laboratory at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, she does much the same for the people of her state. Her lab — a refurbished engineering space measuring about 90 square metres — has a contract with the North Carolina Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, which means that when a human skeleton is recovered, it is her job to determine what happened. The lab has enough tables for four skeletons. Most days, Ross says, all the tables are occupied: her lab is revisiting each of the state’s 130-odd cold cases, many dating back decades, to see whether modern forensic science can shed light on what happened.

Hawaii Innocence Project Gains New Director

The Hawaii Innocence Project, a troop of attorneys and University of Hawaii law students striving to exonerate innocent prisoners, has a new top litigator.
Longtime Hawaii attorney L. Richard “Rick” Fried Jr. has joined HIP as a volunteer co-director, a role he now shares with faculty specialist Ken Lawson.

Judge Upholds Conviction in Karina Vetrano’s Murder, Despite Lone Juror’s Claim It Was Tainted

It took only five hours for a jury to convict a Brooklyn man this month in the high-profile slaying of Karina Vetrano, whose badly beaten body was found partially clothed in a Queens park after she had gone out for a late-afternoon jog.
Then one of the jurors in the case came forward to say he was improperly pressured to convict the defendant, Chanel Lewis, of first-degree murder and sexual abuse. Based on the juror’s sworn statement, Mr. Lewis’s defense lawyers accused other jurors of misconduct and asked the judge to throw out the verdict.

The Justice Files: New DNA laboratory to aid police and families of crime

MURRAY, Utah (ABC4 News) – It may be the first non-profit DNA laboratory in the nation, and it could soon help law enforcement in solving cold cases.
The Utah Cold Case Coalition is behind the DNA laboratory which will soon be open for business.

What Does DNA Tell Us About Race?

The American Association of Physical Anthropologists, an organization of scientists dedicated to the study of the biological variation, adaptation, and evolution of humans and our close relatives, has just released a position statement on race and racism. It provides a nice insight into what has been learned about patterns of genetic and phenotypic variation in human populations since the publication of Watson and Crick’s paper 66 years ago.

What Does DNA Look Like? After 66 Years, We’re Still Learning More.

Exactly 66 years ago, on April 25, 1953, Francis Crick and James Watson published their famous article that showed that the shape of DNA is a double helix. They weren’t able to see DNA directly – it’s much too small for that – but came to their conclusion based on calculations and X-ray diffraction images. A crucial piece of information came from the famous “Photo 51”, an X-ray image of DNA taken by Rosalind Franklin.

Is Shakespeare’s DNA Hiding in the Folger Library’s Vault?

The Folger Shakespeare Library’s underground storage facility stretches a full block beneath the building, protected by a nine-inch-thick steel bank-vault door. It houses about 260,000 historically significant books, along with manuscripts, documents, and even costumes saved from 19th-century productions. But could the Capitol Hill research library—the largest collection devoted to the Bard in the world—also contain, quite literally, Shakespeare himself?

Sooner or Later Your Cousin’s DNA Is Going to Solve a Murder

In the year since the arrest of the man believed to be the notorious Golden State Killer, the world of criminal investigation has been radically transformed.
Using an unconventional technique that relies on DNA submitted to online genealogy sites, investigators have solved dozens of violent crimes, in many cases decades after they hit dead ends. Experts believe the technique could be used to revive investigations into a vast number of cases that have gone cold across the country, including at least 100,000 unsolved major violent crimes and 40,000 unidentified bodies.

Rapid DNA technology identified victims of California wildfires

Medical examiners used Rapid DNA technology to identify the 85 people killed in last year’s Camp Fire wildfire in Paradise, Calif.

FBI partnership puts dent in sexual assault evidence backlogs

The FBI calls it “one of the most difficult and complex issues facing our nation’s criminal justice system.”
Growing stockpiles of untested sexual assault evidence kits have been plaguing U.S. law enforcement for decades, and the FBI and the National Institute of Justice just wrapped up a massive, years-long partnership to hopefully make this problem a thing of the past.

National DNA Day and the Birth of Investigative Genetic Genealogy

Happy National DNA Day! Each year on April 25 we celebrate the 1953 publication of James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, and Rosalind Franklin’s discovery of DNA’s double helix. The day also marks the completion of the first human genome sequence in 2003.