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While historical accounts of the Spanish Hapsburgs dynasty have suggested that prevalent inbreeding likely contributed to the family’s downfall, such suspicions weren’t supported by genetic data–until now. In a new paper in PLoS One, researchers traced the genes of the Hapsburgs through more than 3,000 individuals over 16 generations to calculate the “inbreeding coefficient,” a value that is highly correlated with genetic defects. The study found that much of the family’s infertility could be explained by genetic defects propagated by first-cousin inbreeding.

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