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Unwrapping Mummies' Faces

Researchers from Parabon NanoLabs have reconstructed how three Egyptian mummies may have looked when they were 25 years old, LiveScience reports.

In 2017, researchers from the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History and the University of Tübingen reported in Nature Communications that they generated mitochondrial genomes for 90 mummies and genome-wide SNP data for three. They found that the ancient Egyptian mummies may be more closely related to present-day populations in Jordan, Lebanon, and Yemen than in modern Egypt, as GenomeWeb reported at the time.

With forensic DNA phenotyping, Parabon researchers have now generated three-dimensional images of the mummies using that data, according to LiveScience. It adds that the team used the company's Snapshot tool to predict the men's ancestry, skin color, and facial features, finding they each likely had light brown skin and dark brown hair and eyes.

"It's great to see how genome sequencing and advanced bioinformatics can be applied to ancient DNA samples," Ellen Greytak, Parabon's bioinformatics director, says in a statement. Parabon adds that this is likely the first time DNA phenotyping has been done on samples of this age.