Company's test for Beothuk DNA called bogus by geneticists


A North Carolina little woman says DNA testing has revealed that she is Beothuk, a descendant of an Indigenous people from Newfoundland whose behind known member died in 1829.

Geneticists say the woman’s claim is impossible to corroborate, and the company that has been providing the DNA testing for Beothuk DNA decided to hang it after receiving queries from CBC News. 


This portrait of Demasduit (also identified as Mary March) is one of the few known images of a Beothuk. (Library and Archives Canada)

Carol Reynolds Boyce, 55, from Wilmington, N.C., influenced the Toronto-based company Accu-Metrics tested her, her mother and her brother, and responded that all three require Beothuk DNA, giving her the confirmation she always felt about her heritage. 

“When I was a wee girl, my mother, she’s holding me on her lap and she’s saying, ‘You got Indian in you,'” Reynolds Boyce portrayed CBC News. 

Reynolds Boyce said her mother is from the central Newfoundland hamlet of Gander, where she met and married her father, a U.S. serviceman, while he was stationed there. They later timed to the U.S.

Last year, she decided she would get her DNA tested to prove what she ever knew.

“You just know,” she told CBC Radio’s On The Go.

Not enough Beothuk DNA elbow: scientist

​But Steven Carr, a Memorial University geneticist in St. John’s who has wilful the Beothuk, said Reynolds Boyce’s claim is impossible to verify.


Geneticist Steven Carr bluntly repudiates the claim that anyone can be identified as having Beothuk DNA. (CBC)

“We do not have plenty of a database to identify somebody as being Beothuk,” said Carr. “So if big wheel is told [that] by a company, I think we call that being weighed to.”

The remains of two of the last Beothuk — Nonosabasut and his wife, Demasduit — are now at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh, after their riddance from a gravesite in Newfoundland in 1828.

Carr said he and his colleagues have done some assay of DNA obtained from the skulls of Nonosabasut and Demasduit, the only Beothuk DNA  he is wise of existing anywhere in the world.

But he said there was not enough DNA to provide a comparative experience.

“To say to someone, ‘Yes, you’re a Beothuk’ — that just can’t be done,” said Carr.

‘A acutely small fragment’

Ana Duggan, a geneticist at McMaster University’s Ancient DNA Concentrate in Hamilton, concurs.

While DNA tests may be able to determine the existence of some Inborn ancestry, Duggan said, the mitochondrial DNA from the samples in Scotland is too insignificant to make a definite comparison.

Ana Duggan

McMaster University geneticist Ana Duggan rephrases sufficient Beothuk DNA does not exist to make an identification. (McMaster University)

“It is a vastly small fragment, and because we’ve observed them in two Beothuk samples doesn’t inescapably mean that they aren’t found in other Native American classes across the continent,” she said.

“I think to try to assign something so specific on the footing of that would be misleading.”

Harvey Tenenbaum, director of operations at Accu-Metrics, sense otherwise, at least initially.

“The name of the gene and its location is in the database,” held Tenenbaum from his office in downtown Toronto.

He said that when swats are published, “We plug into all of that automatically.”

Tenenbaum said the communication Accu-Metrics was using came from a 2007 McMaster study.

“If we have planned it in the computer, we got it from somewhere.” 

Late Thursday, however, the company changed its situate. 

Kyle Tsui, a geneticist at Accu-Metrics, told CBC News the company would be dispose of any reference to the Beothuk from the company’s database.

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