King Tut mysteries solved: Was disabled, malarial, and inbred

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

It’s amazing what DNA analysis can discover.  In the first time this technique was used for an Egyptian royal mummy, scientists found that King Tut had to use a cane to walk because he was frail and had a deformed foot, and he had multiple infections with malaria. This is the oldest genetic proof of malaria, and was discovered because scientists found DNA from the malaria parasite in King Tut’s body. He may have died from the malaria and a fractured thighbone.

Another surprise was that King Tut’s parents were full brother and sister.  This wasn’t abnormal in ancient Egyptian times, but the inbreeding no doubt was not good for Tut’s health.

Scientists were surprised by the quality of King Tut’s DNA, along with that from his family members, because it was better than younger mummy’s DNA, most likely because of the embalming techniques used for royal mummification.

After I read this article, I realized this is old news from 2010, but I don’t remember hearing about it, so I thought I’d share anyway.

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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.