French scientist dismisses claims the world’s oldest person was impersonated by her own daughter
A French scientist has dismissed claims the world’s oldest person was actually being impersonated by her own daughter.
- Russian researchers claim Yvonne Calment assumed her mother’s identity for decades
- Gerontologist Michel Allard rejected discrepancies between early photos of Jeanne Calment and her appearance in later life
- Jeanne Calment was born in 1875 and died in 1997
Frenchwoman Jeanne Calment died in 1997 at the age of 122.
But Russian mathematician Nikolay Zak and gerontologist Valery Novoselov claim Ms Calment’s daughter, Yvonne Calment, had assumed her mother’s identity decades earlier.
The Russians analysed photographs, official documents and interviews to produce a body of evidence they admit is circumstantial.
Gerontologist Michel Allard, one of the two French scientists who validated Ms Calment’s age, acknowledged that even if far-fetched, the Russians’ conclusions should be given consideration, although he rejected their suggestions of discrepancies between early images of Ms Calment and her appearance in later life.
In a paper for the Moscow Centre For Continuous Mathematical Education, Mr Zak cited differences between the colour of Jeanne Calment’s eyes, her height and the shape of her forehead in a copy of a 1930s identity card and in her appearance later in life.
But Mr Allard said it would have been impossible for daughter Yvonne to swap places with her mother, saying they held such a prominent position in their local community that many people would have had to be involved.
Jeanne Calment was born on February 21, 1875, more than a decade before the Eiffel Tower was built and a year before Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone.
She married a distant wealthy cousin and outlived her daughter Yvonne —who died of pneumonia in the early 1930s according to official documents —her husband and a grandson before passing away in Arles, southern France, on August 4, 1997.