It is now well known in the genealogical world that the long-missing remains of Richard III, king of England from 1483-1485, were discovered underneath a parking lot in the United Kingdom a few years ago. While the appearance and condition of the skeleton would have provided enough anecdotal evidence consistent with contemporary accounts of his appearance and the battle that killed him to identify it as Richard, it was the mtDNA that gave researchers a definitive identification of this infamous king.
The mtDNA used to identify Richard comes from the mother’s side of the family, and is passed down to daughters and sons. However, only daughters can pass it on to their children; sons cannot. Researchers who unearthed the skeleton and did the tests necessary to identify it included genealogy in their methods; to identify Richard based on his mtDNA, they needed a direct-line female descendant of his mother, Cecily Neville. Cecily had many children… thirteen or even fourteen by some accounts. Only two of them outlived her.