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But Whose Head Is It?

A mummified head found in the Royal Basilica of Saint-Denis in Paris once thought to belong to King Henri IV of France recently was determined to not match other Bourbon line descendants, and Retraction Watch's Ivan Oransky reports that a few of the co-authors of the original British Medical Journal paper linking the head to King Henri now want to retract the paper.

"Robust scientific arguments recently published negate the conclusions of the studies carried out by Charlier et al," four of the paper's 15 authors write to BMJ this week. "Many historical facts calling into question the identification have been detailed by the French historian Philippe Delorme. … A second major argument was the genetic analysis which led to the conclusion that the analyzed samples in the study published this year were not from the French Kings."

When the new paper discounting the link between the mummified head and King Henri IV came out in the European Journal of Human Genetics, Philippe Charlier from University Hospital Raymond Poincaré told PhysOrg that his team had compared the severed head to the king's death mask, finding a match. He had added that that work was to be published soon in a forensic journal.

BMJ tells Oransky that it hasn't decided whether or not it will retract the paper.