Thursday, June 14, 2007

DNA tests will be used to help solve the mystery of the vanished colony of Roanoke Island, which was home to more than 100 colonists who arrived there in 1587, but who vanished sometime between August of that year and 1590, when their governor returned to the island from a trip to England:

Using genealogy, deeds and historical narratives, researchers have compiled 168 surnames that could be connected to settlers in what is considered the first attempt by the English to colonize the New World. The team will try to trace the roots of individuals related to the colonists, to the area's 16th century American Indians or to both.

Fred Willard, director of the Lost Colony center, said some colonists may have migrated inland to what are now East Lake, Chocowinity and Gum Neck. Researchers plan to use cheek swabs taken from possible ancestors to test the paternal and maternal DNA lines.

While DNA will not make any immediate connections beyond living relatives, the samples can provide clues to an individual's country of origin and other shared family