mtDNA from hair and nail clarifies the genetic relationship of the 15th century Qilakitsoq Inuit mummies

M. Thomas P Gilbert, Durita Djurhuus, Linea Melchior, Niels Lynnerup, Michael Worobey, Andrew S. Wilson, Claus Andreasen, Jørgen Dissing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The 15th century Inuit mummies excavated at Qilakitsoq in Greenland in 1978 were exceptionally well preserved and represent the largest find of naturally mummified specimens from the Arctic. The estimated ages of the individuals, their distribution between two adjacent graves, the results of tissue typing, and incomplete STR results led researchers to conclude that the eight mummies formed two distinct family groups: A grandmother (I/5), two daughters (I/3, I/4), and their two children (I/1, I/2) in one grave, and two sisters (II/6, II/8) and a daughter (II/7) of one of them in the other. Using mtDNA from hair and nail, we have reanalyzed the mummies. The results allowed the unambiguous assignment of each of the mummies to one of three mtDNA haplogroups: A2b (I/5); A2a (I/2, I/3, II/6, II/8); A2a-311 (I/1, I/4, II/7), excluded some of the previous relations, and pointed to new ones. I/5 is not the grandmother/mother of the individuals in Grave I, and she is not maternally related to any of the seven other mummies; I/3 and I/4 are not sisters and II/7 is neither the daughter of II/6 nor of II/8. However, I/1 may be the child of either I/4 or II/7 and these two may be sisters. I/2 may be the son of I/3, who may be the daughter of either II/6 or II/8, and these two may be sisters. The observation of haplogroups A2a and A2b amongst the 550-year-old Inuit puts a lower limit on the age of the two lineages in Greenland.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)847-853
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume133
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2007

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nails (integument)
Mummies
Greenland
Nails
Nuclear Family
Mitochondrial DNA
Hair
genetic relationships
hairs
mitochondrial DNA
Siblings
Arctic region
researchers
Arctic
Histocompatibility Testing
Mothers
Research Personnel
Observation
Group

Keywords

  • Ancient DNA
  • Familial relationship
  • Greenland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Anthropology

Cite this

mtDNA from hair and nail clarifies the genetic relationship of the 15th century Qilakitsoq Inuit mummies. / Gilbert, M. Thomas P; Djurhuus, Durita; Melchior, Linea; Lynnerup, Niels; Worobey, Michael; Wilson, Andrew S.; Andreasen, Claus; Dissing, Jørgen.

In: American Journal of Physical Anthropology, Vol. 133, No. 2, 06.2007, p. 847-853.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Gilbert, MTP, Djurhuus, D, Melchior, L, Lynnerup, N, Worobey, M, Wilson, AS, Andreasen, C & Dissing, J 2007, 'mtDNA from hair and nail clarifies the genetic relationship of the 15th century Qilakitsoq Inuit mummies', American Journal of Physical Anthropology, vol. 133, no. 2, pp. 847-853. https://doi.org/10.1002/ajpa.20602
Gilbert, M. Thomas P ; Djurhuus, Durita ; Melchior, Linea ; Lynnerup, Niels ; Worobey, Michael ; Wilson, Andrew S. ; Andreasen, Claus ; Dissing, Jørgen. / mtDNA from hair and nail clarifies the genetic relationship of the 15th century Qilakitsoq Inuit mummies. In: American Journal of Physical Anthropology. 2007 ; Vol. 133, No. 2. pp. 847-853.
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