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    Monday, August 14, 2006

    The Fifth of Five: What's this?

    The fifth finger of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor:

    Panel A shows the specimen consisting of part of the final phalanx of the fifth finger of one of the hands of Charles V. The finger fragment has a dark-brown color, which corresponded to the soft parts. The proximal part of the nail was attached to the ungual bed, whereas the outer half was completely detached.

    Why is the tip of the fifth finger of the fifth Charles in the New England Journal of Medicine? Some Spanish researchers wanted to know if his doctors had made the correct diagnosis when they told him he had gout. They had. Panels B and C are their proof. Panel B is an x-ray of the finger tip, showing the kind of boney erosion seen in severe gout, and Panel C is the bottom of the finger tip, where it would normally attach to the rest of the finger. It has a big yellow deposit of uric acid crystals.

    The authors speculate that the pain of his gout may have unduly influenced some of his decisions. - one of which was the unholy war between Protestants and Catholics that raged for over a century throughout Europe. But, here's a question that might not be all that fanciful in the near future. What if he could be cloned from the few fossilized red blood cells found in that finger? What would it feel like to be the clone of the Holy Roman Emperor? Would it be like being his twin, born five hundered years later with none of his inherited wealth and power? Left to his own devices would the clone become a successful CEO or politician in this modern age, or would he just be an average Joe?

    And where did they get that mummified finger? It's been hanging out safely in a church in Spain for five hundred years. Oh, if that finger could talk.

    posted by Sydney on 8/14/2006 08:33:00 PM 3 comments


    It's amazing that a finger 500 years old could still exist in a church in Spain! What's amazing is that modern research and technology as well as the knowledge of doctors can determine wether or not the owner who happens to be a king, had a certain kind of medical ailment.

    By Anonymous carlo63, at 3:21 AM  

    Nitpick alert re: cloning: Don't you mean fossilized white blood cells? RBCs don't have nuclei, and therefore no DNA.

    By Blogger #1 Dinosaur, at 8:43 AM  


    Correct. I was sloppy. But they didn't find white blood cells in Charles V finger. Guess they can't clone him, unless they use his fossilized skin.

    By Blogger sydney, at 2:53 PM  

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