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Noticeable facial malformations: inbreeding was the cause of the Hapsburg lip

For many centuries the Habsburgs ruled Europe; Through strategic marriages, they have secured their supremacy. The resulting inbreeding was also seen by many nobles: with a prominent chin, a protruding inverted lower lip or a protruding nose tip.

The hybridization produced the lower jaw of the Habsburgs, a prominent chin that is often found along with other facial malformations in many members of the noble family. This is reported by a research group in the journal "Annals of Human Biology". They had studied the long-standing hypothesis and found new evidence on the genetic basis of malformations.

The Habsburgs were a dynasty that dominated much of Europe for several centuries. With the end of World War I, the Habsburg Empire collapsed, securing its power for a long time through strategic marriages. "The Habsburg dynasty was one of the most influential in Europe, but it became known for its inbreeding, which eventually led to its disappearance," says Roman Vilas of the Spanish University of Santiago de Compostela, according to a statement of the # 39. ;investigation. "We show for the first time that there is a clear connection between consanguinity and the Hapsburg mandible".

Abnormalities of many members of the Habsburg family

The distinctive lower jaw was not the only noticeable feature of many members of the Habsburg family. Often – and often in common – you can also find a raised and protruding lower lip, a pronounced hump on the nose or a protruding nose tip. These characteristics are often described as Hapsburg lower lip or Habsburg nose.

The fact that inbreeding played a role in the development of malformations has long been considered probable, but the genetic basis is largely unclear, the researchers write of Vilas. They had 10 oral, maxillofacial and facial surgeons who analyzed a total of 66 portraits of 15 Habsburgs. The doctors looked for a total of 18 characteristics that characterize the malformations characteristic of the upper and lower jaw. Based on the results, scientists determined the importance of malformations in individual Habsburgs.

Malformation of the lower jaw more pronounced in Philip IV.

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<p class=King Charles II of Spain was the last of the Habsburg line and one of the most affected by facial deformity.

(Photo: Don Juan CarreƱo de Miranda / dpa)

The malformation of the lower jaw was therefore more pronounced in Philip IV, king of Spain and Portugal between 1621 and 1640. The maxillary malformation affected five particularly strong family members, including the last king of the Spanish Habsburgs Charles II, of 1665 it ruled until 1700.

In addition, scientists analyzed the Habsburg pedigree. It included over 6000 members and 20 generations. The researchers determined family relationships to determine the extent of inbreeding in the family. In the end they related the results of the portrait analysis.

The evaluation shows a clear connection

The evaluation shows that there is a clear correlation between family proximity and severity of malformations. This was particularly clear in relation to the mandibular malformation. For the Habsburg nose and lower lip, the researchers also found a connection with the hybridization extension, but this was not so pronounced.

The genetic basis of the malformations are not yet clear. Scientists suspect, however, that malformations of the lower jaw are recessively inherited. This means that the trait is found in a child only if it has inherited the genetic composition from both parents. The probability is higher if two relatives have a common child, that is, inbreeding.