“Habsburg Jaw,”Product of Inbreeding: Duh!

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Health Editor’s Note: Ah, inbreeding at its “finest.”. The Habsburg Jaw is mandibular prognathism (MP, or protruding jaw) and maxillary deficiency (sunken midface)…..Carol

The Distinctive ‘Habsburg Jaw’ Was Likely the Result of the Royal Family’s Inbreeding

by Lila Thulin/Smithsonian.com



The family tree of the Habsburgs, a German-Austrian ruling family whose domain stretched from Portugal to Transylvania, is a tangled one. Like many royal families, the Habsburgs made strategic marriages to consolidate their power, often to close relatives. And while the dynasty’s regalia was glittery and their palaces splendid, the royals themselves were markedly less easy on the eyes: Generation after generation, Habsburg monarchs had sharply jutting jaws, bulbous lower lips and long noses. This distinctive “Habsburg jaw,” a new analysis published in the Annals of Human Biology finds, most likely resulted from inbreeding.

The researchers, led by geneticist Román Vilas from Spain’s University of Santiago de Compostela, focused on 15 members of the so-called Spanish Habsburgs. While the Habsburg family rose to power in central Europe as the rulers of Austria, Germany and eventually the Holy Roman Empire, the family’s influence spread westward to Spain after Philip I, son of the second Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, married Joan of Castile in 1496. The Spanish Habsburgs’ reign lasted two centuries, until the 38-year-old Charles II, a king whose manifold health woes and infertility scholars often attribute to severe inbreeding, died in 1700 with no immediate heir.

Vilas and his colleagues honed in on Spanish Habsburgs….

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Maybe the artist was just a surrealist ahead of his time. On second thought, who’d pay money for that portrait?

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