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A king's final hours, told by his mortal remains

Skeleton of Richard III reveals a violent and chaotic end

O BLOODY RICHARD!  The recently excavated bones of England’s King Richard III bear witness to his infamous life and death. Severe scoliosis curved his spine, which may have been painful and made it difficult to breathe. Of the 10 wounds discovered on his skeleton, two are candidates for the death blow: a blade plunged up through the bottom of his skull and gash with an axe-like weapon that took off part of the back of his head.

History and literature have painted England’s King Richard III as a scoundrel who met a violent death in battle and was unceremoniously buried. Now that researchers have revealed some conclusions from a fast-paced scientific investigation of a skeleton found last year under a parking lot in Leicester, England, that end seems all the more gruesome. The results announced February 4 by a team from the University of Leicester paint a picture that is remarkably consistent with both historical and fictional accounts.

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