(Associated Press) Not only was Richard III one of England’s most despised monarchs, it now turns out the hunchback king was probably infected with parasitic worms that could grow as long as 30 cm.
Researchers who dug up Richard III’s skeleton beneath Leicester parking lot last year now report they discovered numerous roundworm eggs in the soil around his pelvis, where his intestines would have been. They compared that to soil samples taken close to Richard’s skull and surrounding his grave. There were no eggs near the skull and only traces of eggs in the soil near the grave.
In a study published online Wednesday in the journal Lancet, experts say this suggests the eggs near the skeleton’s pelvis were from an infection during the king’s life, even though it’s unlikely the worms did him any serious damage. In children, roundworm can lead to stunted growth and a reduced IQ, but for a well-fed English king the parasites were just a minor annoyance.