Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Department of Forensic Medicine looks into anthropology and mitochondrial DNA analysis of the human skeletal remains of the Australian outlaw Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly

Dr Soren Blau, a researcher from the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine (VIFM) and the Department of Forensic Medicine  recently co authored a study which looks at the contributions of anthropology and mitochondrial DNA analysis to the identification of the human skeletal remains of the Australian outlaw Edward ‘Ned’ Kelly.


This paper details the anthropological and genetic analyses that contributed to the identification of the notorious Australian outlaw. In 1880 at the age of 25, Kelly was hanged and buried at the former Melbourne Gaol in Victoria, Australia. In 1929, the remains of executed prisoners (including those of Kelly) were haphazardly disinterred following the demolition of parts of the Melbourne Gaol and haphazardly reinterred in three distinct “pits” at the Pentridge Prison. In 1999 the Pentridge Prison was sold for commercial development and subsequently in 2008 and 2009 the human remains of prisoners were recovered.

The study found that given the antiquity and condition of remains recovered from Pentridge, and the 130 years that had passed since Kelly's execution, mitochondrial DNA analysis was chosen as a suitable DNA analysis tool to examine the Pentridge cases. Only one of the Pentridge cases (Pen14 ) matched the HV1/HV2 mitochondrial DNA haplotype of the reference sample. Additional anthropological analyses indicated a number of pathological features that provided support that the remains of Pen14 are those of Edward (“Ned”) Kelly.

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