Remains of Arctic Explorer Identified Through DNA Analysis

HMS Erebus SkullONTARIO, CANADA—According to a statement released by the University of Waterloo, skeletal remains of a member of the 1845 Franklin Expedition have been identified through DNA analysis. Sir John Franklin and the 129 members of the expedition set out on the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror to explore the Northwest Passage in the Canadian Arctic. All were eventually lost. The DNA sample, obtained from tooth and bone recovered on King William Island in 2013, belonged to Warrant Officer John Gregory, who was an engineer aboard HMS Erebus, based upon a comparison with a DNA sample obtained from one of his direct descendants. Douglas Stenton of the University of Waterloo said Gregory was one of three members of the expedition who died at this site. DNA has also been collected from 26 other sets of remains recovered from nine archaeological sites along the expedition’s path. Stenton and his colleagues hope to compare this DNA with other descendants. For more, go to “The Wrecks of Erebus and Terror,” one of ARCHAEOLOGY’s Top 10 Discoveries of the Decade.


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