Genetic genealogy could help researchers learn the fate of the Lost Colony on Roanoke Island, NC.
It’s one of America’s most enduring mysteries: What happened to the 100-plus settlers who landed on the island in 1587? When governor John White returned in 1590, he found it deserted and, inexplicably, the word Croatoan carved into a tree.
Various theories say Spanish explorers destroyed the settlement, the colonists tried unsuccessfully to return to England, or they assimilated into nearby American Indian groups.
The last speculation is what Brighton, Mich., genetics lab DNA Explain, along with the North Carolina-based Lost Colony Center for Science and Research <www.lost-colony.com>, are studying. Researchers are testing the Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA lines of people identified through genealogical research as possible descendants of Roanoke colonists. For comparison, they also may test the colonists’ known modern relatives in Britain.