Research Finds Harry Potter Descended from Wizards

104

Dec 21, 2007

Posted by EdwardTLC
Uncategorized

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.”





55 Responses to Research Finds Harry Potter Descended from Wizards

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Thats so very very cool!

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Cool!

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That’s very interesting. I had often wondered if wizard genes were recessive or dominant in the past …

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Oh man I’ve wondered about this so much. Really interesting conclusions.

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I wonder if wizard genes have a special pocket for keeping your wand? Oh, wait, that’s wizard jeans!

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If I may completely geek out on this topic for a moment:

[GEEK] I think magical ability would probably be controlled by at least two genes. It might be that one set of genes suppresses another set. This, at least, may explain Muggle-borns. They may have ‘wizarding genes’ in their family, but they also carry another set of genes that suppresses, covers up, or in some way nullifies those genes. In a witch or wizard whose parents are Muggles, that second set of genes would be mutated, so its effects turn off, allowing the underlying wizard alleles to be expressed.

That second set of genes might actually be recessive (needing two alleles to take effect – which would account for why magic genes will out) but just very well represented in the general population – like type O blood. In the pureblood population, that gene would naturally be all but absent, and a rare pairing of two carriers, or a far less common mutation might account for Squibs.

This is actually similar to the genetics of red hair. Many people have genetic coding to make red hair colour, but they also have genes that convert the ‘red’ melanin (melanin gives hair [and skin, and eyes…] its colour) into melanin on the brown spectrum. People with red hair don’t have that gene, so their hair stays red. It’s interesting that the article mentions MCR1, because … that’s actually the gene involved in this process.

Oh, also, you know how some people have blonde hair when they’re children, and it turns darker as they get older? That’s down to gene expression as well, and a similar process may account for why someone like Neville wouldn’t start showing magical ability until later than others.

In any event, I doubt it would be as simple as a Mendelian ‘either or’. [/GEEK]

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Bah. ‘MC1R.’

My apologies to everyone, but writing that out was oddly satisfying.

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I clearly have chosen the wrong career.

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How does this help us understand muggle-borns? Are they really the children of wizards whose magical ability on the spectrum of strength was too low to be ordinarily detected?

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Is this a serious news? Did they really publish this? It’s cool. But seriously?

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Im sorry, but this seems to be a complete waste of valuable research time and money. Instead of curing cancer, we a learning about wizard genes in a fictional book. Harry Potter is made up, NOT REAL!!!! I mean I love the books and movies, but this is completly nuts. I think people who are doing this need a big reality check and quick because they are 5 seconds from looney-town. Seriously, this is incredible that any research team would back this theory when it has no plausible real-life application and never will… Wizards Aren’t Real… IT IS A FREAKING BOOK!!!!

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wow,it’s so cool.at oxford uni too!am glad that jkr’s extensive work on potter series is appeciated much even by such a prestigious uni enough to research upon.it’s amazing how much her work can be looked into and dissected to the pt it becomes research material can later printed in med. journals.

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Stacie, While I can understand your concern over the cure of cancer I am sure these people are not wasting serious time and funds on wizarding genetics. Its just a hobby. Like we as fans have HP as a hobby. I actually have a friend that is a professional gentics researcher and have talked to him about this(he is a huge HP fan). His thoughtrs reflect a lot that was said in the article. I can assure you he is not wasting time and funds that are preventing the cure from cancer happening thinking about this. Just like most humans he dosn’t think and breathe his job 24×7 and is allowed to have a little fun sometimes. Forbes just listed that richest 15 fictional characters. Sure they can research 24 7 on ways to end world hunger but people need to have a little fun sometimes. Relax.

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So metamorphagy must be ressisive and both Remus Lupin, Andromada Tonks and Ted Tonks must all be carriers of this gene – Which means their genotype would be M,m.

Remus Lupin would have to be hetrozygous for non-metamorphagy because we can figure out due to neither Andromada or Ted being metamorphic but their daughter Nymphadora is metamorphic the metmorphigy is ressesive. This is determinded because if Metamorphagy was domintate it would have to be expresed in both Ted and Andromada.

We can figure out the Remus Lupin is hetorzygous (has the gene, but it is not expressed because he has the dominate non-metamorphic gene which over powers the metamorphic gene) because their son is metamorphic which means two ressesive genes, one form each parent, would have to have been present.

Which means one of Remus Lupins ancestors must have been metamorphic, so had one Tonks.

But metaphorphagy must only come ino effect if the Wizard allele of the Magic gege is present. This is like Male Patterened Baldness, which is only expressed in males which is when the X (male) allele of the sex gene is present.

  • M (metamorphic) *m (non- metamorphic)

Yay for Form 6 Biology!

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genes?, recessive? who cares???? wath really matters is the fact that THERE ARE wizards in the world! (I mean, in JK’s world haha)

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whats funnier is the fact that jk rowling explain all of this years ago, and also said that the magical gene is quite dominate and resiliant.

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Cool article…now, if only we could use this in the extinction of mudbl…sorry, I mean “muggleborns”, it would really help us out…

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At first I was like, “Wow, that’s really interesting.” Then I was all, “But wait…. seriously, can’t these people be doing way more valuable stuff with the time and resources they’re wasting doing research on a fictional universe?” But then I had to go back to my original stance, because come on… if we’re allowed to happily obsess about Harry Potter here on Leaky, or writing essays for Scribbulus, or if Forbes can write articles about the Malfoys or Sports Illustrated do a writeup on Quidditch, why can’t scientists get in on the fun too? So while I get both trains of thought, I have to say I think this is a lot of fun.

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go ravenclaw scientists!

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I totally agree with stacie, this takes the meaning of the word geek to new hights.

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to Slytherin Girl: Dolores would probably be exctatic about this study, don’t you think?

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All work and no play would make scientist really very boring. I rather suspect that if they were all trying to find a cure for cancer at the same time they would all get rather disheartened: they, like all other humans, need to have fun too!

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this is ””humorous/spoof news”; not actual news:D a good read.

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awesome!

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hey that’s cool.stop saying it’s just a waste of time,i mean it’s amazing they’ve been reseaching something like that,so funny :)

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This is 7th year OWL stuff,. Study this research carefully, wizard students as at least 1 question on this topic will appear in the Evoluwizuggle Exam.

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One of these days, I’m really going to think JK is a witch. How else could she have done what she has done? Scientists trying to decipher wizard genetics… that’s huge.

If my engineer brother, whose feet are extremely rooted to the ground, starts talking about wizards with me, I WILL believe JK has enthralled the whole world.

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Gosh! It’s nothing new!

” (...) magic is a dominant and resilient gene.”

from: http://www.jkrowling.com/textonly/en/extrastuff_view.cfm?id=19

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El Caz, maybe he’ll design the better broomstick?

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Fiction? Fiction? I still subscribe to the theory that J.K. is really writing history and all of the HP films are documentaries. Your memories might have all been modified, but I definitely remember the headlines about the hurricane in the UK.

http://www.stvincent.ac.uk/Resources/Weather/Severe/oct87.html

“The great storm of October 1987 was the worst to affect the south east of England since 1703. After the storm had passed the landscape was changed – some 15 million trees were felled and whole forests decimated. Buildings suffered severe damage and ships were driven on to shore. 16 people died as a direct result of the storm damage. The storm developed rapidly – so much so that weather forecasters were unable to predict the track and ferocity of the storm. As it became apparent that this was an abnormal condition, severe warnings were flashed to emergency services.”

And to any obliviators out there, don’t bother trying to find me … I am well protected by the Wizard of MP.

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I’ve already thought about this myself after I came across an interview were JK said the gene was dominant. From the evidence in the book I thought it would have to be recessive and also thought maybe it was to do with multiple genes. It’s fun to think about but I think JK said herself they’re not really scientifically thought out books. There are bond to be many contradictions to whatever conclusion you come to in this matter I think.

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The wizard gene is dominant, however that does not stop it having mutated variants that are recessive and other mutated genes that block it. If a pureblood wizard and witch carry these mutant genes then they will have a squib. However generations later (maybe centuries) a muggle carrying a mutant recessive magic gene might with another muggle carrier of the mutant recessive gene and produce a muggleborn wizard or witch. In order of dominants: M= Magic dominant, m=muggle, mb=mutant gene blocks magic recessive, mr=magic recessive.

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Likewise in the case of muggleborns with two recessive magic genes, their bodies when passing on their genes to their children can using “junk DNA” turn their recessive magic gene into a dominant gene, so all their children have magic ability.

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Hahaha. “Research Finds Harry Potter Descended From Wizards.”

Oh god, then what have I been reading for 8 years?! Tanya Grotter and the Muggletastic Escapade?

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aren’t there more inportant things in science to worry about than wizarding blood lines? this is stupid.

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And there are still children dying of AIDS and cancer. Kudos to the geneticists who have squandered their education on fictional character.

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Wow, it’s amazing how all of YOU are allowed to have as much fun with Potter as you want, but scientists have to be frickin’ robots. Lighten up, people. If you must worry about wasted time, then concentrate on your own contributions to this world of ours.

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Stacie, I know this doesn’t seem like a proper use of time for researches from Oxford, but if you look at it in another way, it’s very helpful indeed, The objective of Oxford University is to educate people, and what better way to explain genetics to a broader audience, then to use something as popular as the “Harry Potter” universe? This way, those people (adults and children included) who enjoy the series, might acquire a firmer understanding of the way that genes and DNA work in the real world. A subject that might not have interested them at all, might just come alive for them in this way.

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A waste of time and resources? Shouldn’t they be saving the world? Come on, these are doctorate level scientists; this information probably took them all of two hours of combined break time while sipping their coffee to figure out!

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I completely agree with everything you said Bandersnatch- thank you for being logical. ;) This article was quite interesting! Thank you Leaky!

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Bandersnatch, I completely agree.

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So do I Amy :)

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Now all I need to figure out is where I fit into one of these wizarding families…

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They’d have to be recessive if muggleborns could become witches and wizards, because then they’d get “w” and not “W” because then that means that their parents would have to have a big W gene which would make them wizards…. So the gene has to be recessive “ww.” The parents genes would look like this “Mw” and “Mw” having M-muggle being the dominate gene. And then they’d end up each passing down the recessive “w” and TADA!! A muggle born. “ww.” That would only happen 1/4 of the time.

Wow… this is actually kinda stupid lol.

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SWEET! I just finished the first semester of AP Bio today and this is awesome. It’s like epistasis, where one gene determines the phenotype (in this case, being a wizard) and another determines if that gene is expressed or not.

Like with mice, they have a gene that says if they have brown or black fur, and another that determines if the pigment is expressed, which is why some are white. Seems like the same thing is going on here, pretty cool!

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Seriously. Is it really taking “the establishment” (scienctists etc) this long to work out “different mixtures” of genes produce people with differing abilities ? MERCY ! what ever will they discover next ? !

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Being from a pureblood family i think this study is great. It’s about time someone took the time to look deeply into this issue and will also revisit it again:) Happy Christmas to everyone in the world of POTTER

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Happy Christmas to you too Doublecore

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wow. that’s strange… oxford scientists studding harry potter? okay, that’s still awesome!

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It’s complete legal and encourable to theorize scientific about fiction and fantasy items; Starwars has been a subject for years already. And thinking scientific about fact used in fantasy can only improve the quality of used fantasy. It avoids incorperating inconsequences in the story. like for instance the use of Polyjuice in Deathly Hallows, where it ws no longer bound by the limitations set for it in Chamber of Secrets.

Only this article doesn’t add much new to the topic. It is basic a repetation of first class genetics and the Laws of Mendel, which he discovered after breeding with petunia’s for as far as I can remember.

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I am a huge harry potter fan and all, but i find this totally unneccessary. i think that if people have enough time on their hands to figure out the genotypes of fictional characters, they should be doing something useful. Don’t get me wrong, it is interesting, but i just find it very unneccessary.

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that is the coolest thing ever. im obsesed with harry potter, ;ike i read the 7th book 7 times already (how apropriate i know and this is one of the coolest things ever

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I’m sure all the people suffering from real illnesses are thrilled to see that scientists who should be researching cures are spending their time with this sort of garbage.

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Ok, this makes my biology class soooooo much more interesting!

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