Will the Somerton Man's DNA match that of "Jestyn's" family?

Metaculus
★★★☆☆
23%
Unlikely
Yes

Question description

On 1 December 1948, a man was found dead on Somerton Beach in Adelaide. Of all the mysterious details of the case - including missing socks, another man's name on the tags of his clothing, speculated links to World War 2 spying operations, allegations of marrying for DNA, potential digitalis poisoning and the thighs of a ballet dancer - the most interesting was a slip of paper.

During the inquest, conducted in June 1949, a torn scrap of paper with the words "Tamam Shud" printed on it was found in a hidden pocket in the man's trousers. Persian for "The End", these words conclude the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, a book of poetry. When the find was reported, a man handed in a copy of the book that he had found dropped through the open window in the back of his car.

The "Tamam Shud" scrap had been torn from this book, which contained a series of letters, perhaps a secret code, the word "JEstyn" and a phone number. The phone number belonged to Jessica "Jestyn" Thomson. Thomson lived 400 metres north of where the Somerton Man's body was found. When shown the plaster bust of the Somerton Man, she almost fainted - and then claimed to not recognise him.

Jess Thomson's son Robin was born in July 1947. Robin apparently shares two unusual genetic features with the Somerton Man: a larger upper-ear hollow than lower-ear hollow and hypodontia of the incisors.

Both Jess and Robin Thomson are now deceased, but Robin Thomson's daughter Rachel Egan has volunteered her DNA to be compared to that of the Somerton Man to see if he may be her grandfather.

As well as the possibility that there is no match, there is also the risk that not enough DNA is recovered as the Somerton Man's body was embalmed. The remains, exhumed in May 2021, are in "reasonable" condition but there is no timeframe for results to be announced.

Will the Somerton Man's DNA match that of "Jestyn's" family? ("Tamam Shud" case)

Forensic Science SA or another scientific authority confirms that Rachel Egan or another member of the Thomson family is related to the Somerton Man, or says that such a relation is over 50% likely.

If there is no positive confirmation by December 31, 2025, this question resolves negative. If no test is performed, this question resolves ambiguous.

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★★★☆☆
PlatformMetaculus
Number of forecasts120

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23%
Unlikely

On 1 December 1948, a man was found dead on Somerton Beach in Adelaide. Of all the mysterious details of the case - including missing socks, another man's name on the tags of his clothing, speculated links to World War 2 spying operations,...

Last updated: 2022-11-17
★★★☆☆
Metaculus
Forecasts: 120

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