Got a $10,000 check? Paul Mungia may have found something even more valuable: a potential breakthrough in DNA science

Three days after The Washington Post was published, Paul Mungia began working through DNA from pheromones in the pit of his hand to document the thousands of years of burned-erected human remains at a 10-acre coal mine near Bethany, Ill. This wasn’t about burying bodies, just to determine the ages of the remains. The sense of curiosity from scientists when they work near humans’ remains was obvious. And because Mungia was shooting the videos to document this project, his work had proven valuable.

“I believe that science is better when it is used to measure and study dead bodies,” said Mungia, who studies the skeletons of early Mesolithic peoples and in 2011 was one of only a few chosen to enter the Field Institute’s Genealogy project at its Sedgwick, Kan., headquarters. The “algebraic understanding of how to identify human remains combined with the anatomical data is why genealogy has become so popular.”

His latest work helped to gain Mungia an international reputation and earn him at least $10,000 in book sales. In July, Field Publishing paid him $9,000 to dig up every single bone found in the pit. The subjects represent dating back to around 500 B.C. to 8100 B.C. and represent 14 individual skeletons. That covers four generations of human remains. Not bad.

Next up: more skeletal remains found on the same part of the mine from around the same time period.

Leave a Comment