Titanic Disaster: Identity of the "Unknown Child"

October 13, 2011

In 2004, JCDA published our article1 concerning dentistry’s role in the identification of an unknown child whose body was recovered following the sinking of the ocean liner Titanic.

Our group at the University of Toronto was supplied with 3 primary teeth, recovered after exhumation of the body. Scanning electron microscopic examination of one of these teeth revealed that it contained dentin. Mitochrondrial DNA was recovered from this dentin in another laboratory. As a result, the child was identified as Eino Viljami Panula, a 13-month-old Finnish boy.

Recent and more extensive mitochondrial genome analysis now indicates that the remains are instead most likely those of Sidney Leslie Goodwin, a 19-month-old English child.2

Dr. Keith C. Titley

Professor emeritus, University of Toronto

Toronto, Ontario


  1. Titley KC, Pynn BR, Chernecky R, Mayhall JT, Kulkarni, GV, Ruffman A.  The Titanic disaster: dentistry’s role in the identification of an ‘unknown child’. [Special feature] J Can Dent Assoc. 2004;70(1):24-8.
  2. Just RS, Loreille OM, Molto JE, Merriwether DA, Woodward SR, Matheson C, et al. Titanic’s unknown child: the critical role of the mitochrondrial DNA coding region in a re-identification effort. Forensic Sci Int Genet. 2011;5(3): 231-5. Epub 2010 Apr 2.

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