DNA Test Solves the Mystery of Copernicus's Remains

By Nina Bai | November 20, 2008 3:36 pm

copernicusThe remains of an elderly man found in a Polish cathedral in 2005 have now been confirmed to be that of Copernicus, the 16th century astronomer famous for displacing Earth from the center of the universe. A team of Polish researchers have matched DNA extracted from a tooth and a femur bone to that of a strand of hair found in one of Copernicus’ old books.

For all his revolutionary ideas, Copernicus was never particularly famous during his lifetime, at least not enough to have a marked grave. (He didn’t publish his heliocentric treatise De revolutionibus until 1543, the year of his death, for fear of persecution.) Scientists knew he was one of the anonymous burials in a cathedral in Frombork, Poland, but they didn’t know which one. So they used radar to scan all the bodies to find one about 60 to 70 years old, the astronomer’s age when he died. The DNA evidence confirms that they got the right body.

The scientists also sent the skull to a crime lab for some creepy digital facial reconstruction. The face that came back resembled portraits of Copernicus, complete with broken nose and a scar above the left eye—meaning he might have been popular with the ladies.

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Image: flickr / Ian Mulvany

MORE ABOUT: burial, Copernicus, death, DNA
  • Mather

    This doesn’t solve the remaining MYSTERY as to why the worldwide scientific community still accepts the myth of Heliocentrism – Copernicus’ UNPROVEN theory of the earth revolving around the Sun.

    Particularly when Geocentrism has significantly greater scientific evidence to support it.

    The 16th century mathematician/astronomer Tycho Brahe’s Earth-centric theory- with some 20th century modifications, is still the scientifically superior theory.

  • Mitchell

    Quoted from Mather’s Comment: “…UNPROVEN theory…”

    Did you know that there are no ‘proven’ theories about the source of gravity?

    Let’s go find an obscure theory to explain gravity. Particularly one that has been refuted by most scientists, and let’s call it scientifically superior.

    OR… maybe we should just give up and bury our heads.

  • Aidan G

    Yes, unproven. Because we all know that all those satellite pictures, photos from the moon, telescope captures, etc. are all just hoaxes.

    And the little green men live in my butt, and control the CIA and the president from there. I know, because like Mather, I also have my head up my butt.

  • Paddy McGowan

    Desperate creationists and Biblical literalists cling to geocentricism. Mather’s comment should be expunged as anti-intellectual and inflammatory,

  • http://www.copernicuscodemystery.com NicoCopernicus

    Welcome to the website: http://www.copernicuscodemystery.com. 19 november my documentary on searching for Copernicus grave and finding DNA samples was shown on Swedish TV. There are few facts, trailer and future plans about dozens hours of my materials covering nearly whole searching process: from finding the cranium up to now, when dr Mary Allen identified 2 hairs in Copernicus private library. In documentary you could see real, not set footage of possesing the hair from the book. It was really extraordinary experience to be close to that research.


  • Ellen

    Fascinating! At the risk of appearing ill-educated, I have to ask why it took 500+ years to *find his remains* in a cathedral in 2005. Was the cathedral in ruins or was it used after the 1500s? Where in the cathedral were the remains found? Very curious questions is all. Thanks.

  • http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/DNA-Testing/ John Lloyd Scharf

    They got it all wrong anyway. Nikky’s paternal uncle married his maternal aunt producing his cousin Fred. This is cousin Freddy, my 20Xgreat grandfather on my father’s mother’s side.

    Some day they will have science editors who will not assume all DNA tests are the same.

  • Paul Bouchard

    Is it legal or ethical to rob graves like this ?? who are these people,

  • Scott C.

    And the little green men live in my butt…..

    SO……..you are the new host to the GREEN BUTT BASE. I had that distinct displeasure several years ago. I’m glad they moved on. I still hwven’t gotten over it……….

  • Grimwood

    Shrink the chin just a little and add a dimple and I see Kirk Douglas!

  • Avi Shearer

    He kind of looks like the current Pope, Benedict XVI. I wonder if if they are related?

  • http://psychwatch.blogspot.com sickmind fraud

    Simply put, when Copernicus was buried, he not not particularly famous, and so there was no particular need for a traditional marked grave, according to the custom of that time.

  • wheresmyhouse

    This thread went south quickly.

  • True Copernican

    There are so many wrong ideas about Copernicus as there are comments in most of such discussions. First of all, Copernicus proved heliocentricity so it is not a “theory” as some dim-witted writers and academics allege. Second, Copernicus published “Commemontariolus” so that the dim-witted know that he discovered heliocentricity over 30 years before 1543. Third there is a paper at Jagiellonian Library where Copernicus studied when he was in his teens and this paper is attributed to him – on heliocentricity. Finally, to end this nonsense in Copernicus’ De revolutionibus the chapter reads essentially “Proof of the Earth’s triple motion in space about the Sun.” The dim-witted ought to note the word “Proof.” While Aristarchus left a vague comment about heliocentrism-nothing direct exists from Aristarchus, what matters is that all Greek astronomy was based on spheres of ether – real but not matter. Contrary to “clockworks” of pre-Copernican astronomy made with spheres or ether, Copernicus has the first true system of material planets in empty space, which ancient Greeks and until Copernicus in astronomy was believed to be filled up (outer space) with immaterial ether (planets, Moon, stars were made of ether). The word revolution is from Copernicus’ title of his work, and to honor Copernicus’ work it denotes all revolutionary work which followed Copernicus’ and was based on Copernicus’ matter, atoms, and gravity (which explicitly lists and explains how they form matter and gravity of celestial objects) — you all need to simply read what Copernicus wrote unless you want to still be the dim-witted…… no wonder it took over 400 years to have Copernicus work translated into English….. shame.

  • http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/DNA-Testing/ John Lloyd Scharf

    You really think Copernicus was the first to discover heliocentricity? PLEASE. The Egyptians had it down to the point they were measuring distances using astronomy. Omar Khyam in the 12the century had to be using calculus to know the length of a year to ten decimals. The reason his work was published was purely a matter of inventing the printing press from watching a grape press.

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  • Jim

    To Aidan G; I wish those little green men you refer to controlled the president. The country would be in much better shape!

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  • Pingback: Scientists have identified the body of Copernicus - Christian Forums()


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