The Everett Ruess DNA Miscalculation

by virtualDavis


Photograph of Utah’s Comb Ridge by Dawn Kish
(National Geographic Adventure)

The discovery of explorer Everett Ruess’s skeletal remains, as detailed in the April/May 2009 issue of Adventure (“Finding Everett Ruess“), appeared to be a slam dunk. A team of forensic scientists laid out an impressive case, backed by a DNA test that linked bones found in the Utah desert to the long-lost explorer, an icon of the American Southwest. Well, DNA results are only as good as the process that produces them, and in this case, a peculiar set of blunders managed to complicate, rather than solve, a 75-year-old mystery. (David Roberts National Geographic Adventure)

For the romantics out there who’ve been following this story through the years, it’s easy to agree with Everett’s nephew, Brian Ruess: “Everett,” Brian says, “just doesn’t want to be found.” Not when he was alive; not now.

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