2023 Author: Bryan Walter | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 22:24
Czech paleopathologists investigated skeletal anomalies on the remains of seven members of the Sveerts-Sportsk family from the 17th – 20th centuries. The results of the work showed a high similarity of pathologies in close relatives, some of which can be called familial - displacement of the vertebrae at the border of the cervical and thoracic regions, hypoplasia of the twelfth rib. The article was published in the International Journal of Paleopathology.
Recently, scientists and physicians have increased interest in a wide range of hereditary pathologies, including genetic diseases of the skeleton, which account for more than half of all congenital diseases. However, in the archaeological context, such anomalies were recorded mainly as isolated cases. Until now, population studies remain few.
A rare exception is a research project that analyzes the remains of many members of the Medici family. This made it possible, for example, to identify some familial diseases of the knee joint. In addition, on the remains of Giovanna of Austria and her daughter Anna (16th century), recovered from the Medici Chapel in Florence, paleopathologists discovered bilateral dysplasia of the acetabulum, while the heads of the femurs in both women continued to articulate normally in the hip joint.
Jan Cvrček, together with colleagues from the National Museum of Prague, examined the skeletal remains of seven members of the noble family of Sveerts-Sportsk from the 17th – 20th centuries from the city of Hradec Králové in order to assess the degree of similarity of biologically related individuals in terms of bone developmental abnormalities. Scientists analyzed 89 possible pathologies, and the morphological assessment was verified using computed tomography.
Examples of skeletal anomalies
The results of the study showed the greatest degree of similarity in skeletal anomalies between brother and sister, father and son, as well as between two men of distant relationship. Within the sample, there was also a high degree of similarity between the woman and her great-great-grandson. Most of all, the only unrelated woman differed from the group. The skeleton of one individual was not included in the calculations, as it belonged to a child whose remains are very poorly preserved.
The researchers noted that the degree of similarity between members of the Sveerts-Sportsk family based on the analysis of skeletal anomalies is consistent with the results of past studies that examined the size of the frontal sinuses. Researchers have found several abnormalities that can be called familial, for example, displacement of the vertebrae at the border of the cervical and thoracic regions, hypoplasia of the twelfth rib.
Researchers note a positive relationship between biological distance and the degree of morphological similarity between individuals, which potentially allows this method to be used as an auxiliary tool for establishing family kinship.
Recently, at N + 1, other successes of paleopathologists in the study of ancient remains were reported. For example, French scientists found that craniotomy in medieval France was used to treat neurological disorders, and German researchers found the most severe case of Madelung deformation on ancient remains.