When a lost "Petit Prince" meets Antoine de Saint Exupéry: An anthropological case report.

Affiliation

Aix Marseille Univ, CNRS, EFS, ADES, Marseille, France. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

This case study reports the anthropological analysis of bones remains discovered on Riou Island (Marseille, France) and the story of two World War II fighter pilots. The discovery of bones on "The Fountain of the Greeks" square on Riou Island occurred in the 1960's and a first anthropological study described a 35-year-old man, about 1.77 m tall, buried since an estimated period between the 13th and 16th centuries. The case was "closed" and the bones were considered as isolated archaeological remains. Few years later, near the coasts of Riou Island, parts of two planes were discovered. One was from of a German Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-4 of the Luftwaffe piloted by Prince Alexis fürst zu Bentheim und Steinfurt, and the other from a French P-38 Lightning F-5 B piloted by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Therefore, the identification of the skeletal remains mentioned above was then thought to be perhaps one of the two World War II pilots. In this particular context we performed forensic and molecular biology analyses to resolve this identification.

Keywords

Ancient DNA,Bone remains,DNA identification,Forensic anthropology,Second World War,