Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. Zugzwang
    08 Jun '07
    25 Apr '17 22:27
    History is not a collection of 'dead facts', unvarying with time and research.

    For as long as I can recall, historians assumed that everyone who served
    (and died) in John Franklin's doomed Arctic expedition was male.

    Now DNA analysis suggests that perhaps up to four women might have been aboard.

    "Scientists have extracted DNA from the skeletal remains of several
    19th-century sailors who died during the ill-fated Franklin Expedition,
    whose goal was to navigate the fabled Northwest Passage."

    "The results were published April 20 in the Journal of Archaeological Science."

    "Women among the dead?
    Four samples in the study were identified as female, which doesn't fit with the
    picture of an all-male expedition crew. The authors ruled out the possibility that
    these samples came from Inuit women because the genetic and archaeological
    evidence associated with these four individuals also suggests they were European.

    "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 on board," Stenton told Live Science.

    Stenton and his colleagues think the most likely explanation for this discrepancy is that
    ancient DNA studies commonly fail to amplify the Y chromosome (the male
    sex chromosome) due to insufficient quantity or quality of DNA, which can result
    in false female identifications of the dead. However, the researchers noted that
    it wasn't unheard of for women to serve in disguise in the Royal Navy.

    "Some of these women were smuggled onboard [the] ship, and others disguised
    themselves as men and worked alongside the crew for months or years before being
    detected or intentionally revealing themselves to be female," the authors wrote."