Washington, August 17 : A scientist has said that the ongoing analysis on the mummified remains of two female fetuses buried in the tomb of Tutankhamun will most likely show that at least one of the stillborn children is the offspring of the teenage Egyptian pharaoh.
The scientist in question is Robert Connolly, senior lecturer in physical anthropology from the University of Liverpool's Department of Human Anatomy and Cell Biology, who has carried serological analysis on the mummified remains of the two fetuses.
"I studied one of the mummies, the larger one, back in 1979 (and) determined the blood group data from this baby mummy and compared it with my 1969 blood grouping of Tutankhamun," said Connolly.
"The results confirmed that this larger fetus could indeed be the daughter of Tutankhamen," he added.
The fetuses have been stored at the Cairo University's Faculty of Medicine since archaeologist Howard Carter first discovered them in Tutankhamun's tomb on the west bank of Luxor, Egypt in 1922.
Egyptologists have long debated whether these mummies were the stillborn children of King Tut and his wife Ankhesenamun or if they were placed in the tomb with the symbolic purpose of allowing the boy king to live as newborns in the afterlife.
Never publicly displayed, the two fetuses will soon undergo CT scans and DNA testing to determine possible diseases and their relation to the famous pharaoh, and possibly "identify the fetuses' mother," Zahi Hawass, the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities, said in a statement.
"This is a very important project, as these fetuses have never been fully studied," Swiss anatomist and paleopathologist Frank Ruhli told Discovery News.
The smaller fetus, about five months in gestational age, has only been examined by Carter in 1925. The mummy is less than 30 centimeters (11.8 inches) in height and is well preserved, according to Ruhli.
The older, larger fetus is estimated to be between seven and nine months in gestational age. It is less well preserved than the other and measures 38.5 centimeters (15.16 inches).
According to Hawass, DNA tests might help solve the riddle of the mummies and even more mysteries around King Tut.
"The fetuses might help identify the lineage and the family of King Tutankhamun, particularly his parents," he said.
"Since these two fetuses were found in the tomb of Tutankhamen, there is no reason to think that they were other than his offspring, a matter supported by my 1979 blood group studies," said Connolly.
The two fetuses will be studied at a new ancient DNA lab opening at Cairo University to supplement research at a similar lab created at the Egyptian Museum, with funding from the Discovery Channel.
The DNA tests and CT scans should be finished by December.