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Chromosomal disorders discovered from prehistoric skeletal remains

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: TH


Context: Researchers have reported the discovery of chromosomal disorders, including six cases of Down syndrome and one case of Edwards syndrome, in prehistoric skeletal remains dating back approximately 5,500 years.

  • These findings represent the first identification of Edwards syndrome from historic or prehistoric remains.
  • The individuals affected by these disorders mostly died either before or shortly after birth, with some cases dating as far back as the Bronze Age and Neolithic period.
  • The study suggests a potentially higher frequency of burials of trisomy carriers in certain ancient societies, indicating a recognition of these individuals as part of their communities.


The findings shed light on how ancient societies may have perceived and responded to genetic disorders, offering insight into their cultural practices and beliefs surrounding such conditions.


Condition Description
Down syndrome A condition characterized by the presence of an extra chromosome or an additional piece of a chromosome, leading to changes in the development of a baby’s body and brain. It can result in both mental and physical challenges throughout life.
Edwards syndrome (trisomy 18) A genetic disorder that causes delays in physical growth during fetal development. Children diagnosed with Edwards syndrome typically have a short life expectancy due to various life-threatening complications. Survivors may experience significant intellectual challenges, especially if they live beyond their first year.