Jan 19, 2019 | Updated: 08:39 AM EST

Mummified Crew Remains Of Ill-Fated Franklin Expedition Undergo DNA Identification

Apr 25, 2017 02:57 PM EDT


The ill-fated crew of two ships, HMS Erebus and HMS Terror, led by British Royal Navy Captain, Sir John Franklin, perished attempting to find a Northwest Passage linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in 1845 when their ship got trapped in the ice of the Canadian Arctic. All 129 people on board the two ships met with icy deaths after abandoning their ships.

According to Archaeology, Dr. Douglas Stenton and his team of Nunavut's Department of Culture and Heritage managed to obtain the DNA samples of 24 members of Franklin's team. What they concluded was most curious.

The DNA tests suggested that of the 24 samples, four came from women. Though improbable, there can be two explanations for this.

One possible explanation is this finding resulted from an insufficient amplification of Y chromosomes in the samples. However, the other more probable explanation is that these women clandestinely boarded the ship disguised as men or were smuggled on board.

Mail Online quotes Dr. Stenton as saying, "We were surprised by the results for those samples because in planning the analysis it hadn't occurred to us that there might have been women onboard." However, the results of identifying women among the crew can very well be false, but it has not been ruled out as yet.

Another more intriguing find was the location of the bones of one individual at two different sites that were a mile apart. This may have happened due to the 1879 search party moving some bones and reburying them someplace else.

The process of DNA identification is on and the researchers are confident of identifying the remains of the remaining crew members. Stenton is upbeat about it, and says, "We have been in touch with several descendants, who have expressed interest in participating in further research."

The research team has the genetic database of 24 expedition members as of now. They are hopeful for using it to find the doomed crew's final moments.

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