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The Mummy's Head

A mummified head that surfaced in France is thought to belong to King Henri IV based upon facial reconstruction, but genetic analysis indicates that it may not, the Associated Press reports.

France's King Henri IV, known as Good King Henry and of "Paris vaut bien une messe" fame, reigned between 1589 and 1610, when he was assassinated, and, according to legend, was posthumously beheaded during the French Revolution in 1793, LiveScience adds.

To determine whether this really was King Henri IV's head, researchers from University of Leuven in Belgium examined a DNA sample from the mummified head and compared it to DNA from three living male descendents of the House of Bourbon. As the researchers report in the European Journal of Human Genetics, they examined Y chromosome markers, finding that the living Bourbons had similar Y-STR profiles, but not the sample from the mummified head. Matrilineal evidence for a match is similarly sparse. The Belgian team says the head, then, is unlikely to belong to the former king.

Philippe Charlier, the researcher from University Hospital R Poincaré who performed the facial reconstruction, points out that a mismatch could be due to illegitimacy in the Bourbon line.