Research Finds Harry Potter Descended from Wizards

Dec 21, 2007

Posted by: EdwardTLC


As if any more evidence was needed, researchers from Oxford University who have been studying aspects of wizarding genes, found that evidence points to Harry Potter descending from a magical bloodline. The Telegraph has a fun look this evening at ‘an analysis of wizardry’ study on the genetics of wizards from the Harry Potter novels. Their aim is to study wizard lineage in hopes to “address the heritability of magic.” They have found, and have published in the British Medical Journal, that magical ability could indeed be passed down from generation to generation. Basing its research on elements of the story contained in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” in addition to the first six books in the series, such as information on various family lineages including the Blacks, Gaunts, and Weasleys, the study goes into great detail on the topic. Dr. Knight, a Senior Researcher from the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, says of this project:

“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows provides a lot of valuable information about magical families that strongly suggests a role for genetic factors.

“For example, magic exists in at least seven generations of the Black family and at least three generations in others. We also see twins – the Patil and Weasley twins – with the same magical abilities.”

The article details their findings, which, in part, contradict a previous study of wizard genes which ‘claimed magical abilities depend on a recessive version of a gene: all wizards and witches thus have two copies of the wizard “W” gene, distinguishing it from the ordinary M, or Muggle, version.’ TLC referenced this study here in 2005. Todays new Oxford-based study, however, builds upon the formers findings and says (with mildly spoilerific details in tow):

Rather than being all down to one gene, they believe enchanted skills can vary across a spectrum of strength, depending on the combined influence of a dominant gene for magic, which is turned on or off depending on epigenetic effects, and modified by the influence of a number of genes, along with the environment.

There appear to be three magical skills that are conferred by specific genes. “One of these is the capability to speak to snakes (parseltongue), known to be only a feature of those who are direct descendants of Slytherin.

Another is to be a seer; Sybill Trelawney, although not perfect, has this ability, and her great-great-grandmother was also extremely gifted in this respect.

Lastly, being a metamorphmagus (the ability to change one’s physical appearance) is an ability that Nymphadora Tonks passed on to her son,” says the BMJ paper.

While this hypothesis may only be based on the fictional world of author J. K. Rowling’s creation, the researchers still wait for a full analysis of a wizard’s genetic code in the future, and conclude: “magic shows strong evidence of heritability.”

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.