In 1783, Charles Byrne — a 7-foot, 7-inch man known as the Irish Giant — died after having spent several years gathering fame as a side-show act. His skeleton, denuded from flesh, has been displayed at a London museum since then, and he has been the subject of much debate among scientists. Now, reports The New York Times' Gina Kolata, researchers in the UK and Germany have managed to extract DNA from one of his teeth, and have discovered that Byrne had a rare mutation in a gene called AIP. The mutation, first discovered in 2006, can cause symptom-producing pituitary tumors leading to — among other things — gigantism, Kolata says. The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows the researchers found the mutation in four families from Northern Ireland near where Byrne was born, and that they later discovered he was related to all four families.
The Real Finn Mac Cool
Jan 07, 2011