Irish researchers have learned that a man who lived more than 5,000 years ago was born from incest, suggesting he was “among a ruling social elite akin to similarly inbred Inca god-kings and Egyptian pharaohs.”
Lara Cassidy, a post-doctoral student in ancient genomics at Trinity College Dublin, has been studying DNA from a man whose remains were excavated in the 1960s from Newgrange, a monolithic Stone Age passage tomb in Ireland. When her team finally sequenced the genome, she says the results were “quite shocking.”
“We inherit two copies of the genome, one from our mother and one from our father. And this man’s copies were remarkably similar, really long stretches of identical sequences,” Cassidy told As It Happens host Carol Off.
“That’s sort of the telltale signal of very close inbreeding. You can actually estimate and confirm it was first-degree relatives who were his parents. So either a brother and sister, or a parent and child.”