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New identity given to remains of Franklin Expedition sailor

Modern analysis has shown that the remains of a sailor who perished during the ill-fated Franklin Expedition were misidentified in the 19th century.

Mays and colleagues re-examined the bones thought to belong to Le Vesconte to estimate the man’s age, ancestry and body shape. They concluded he was likely 30 to 40 years old, European and rather tall and slender. A gold filling in a tooth indicated a certain social status. Such filings are rare in 19th-century English burial grounds, except high-status church burial vaults, the researchers write in an online version of the journal article published on Feb. 27.

Scurvy — a disease caused by vitamin C deficiency — and tuberculosis have both been implicated in the disaster; however, this man’s body contained no evidence of either. A chemical analysis of his tooth enamel offered clues about where in Britain he grew up, eliminating most of southwestern England as his residence. They knew that Le Vesconte had grown up in Devon, a southwestern county, making this identification unlikely.

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Story: Wynne Parry, LiveScience | Photo: English Heritage

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