Several news sources have reported that DNA testing was used to confirm the death of Osama bin Laden, along with videotaping his burial at sea.
Officials who requested anonymity told the Associated Press that DNA testing as well as other means were used to confirm that it was in fact bin Laden who was killed in a raid on a compound in Pakistan on Saturday night.
Bin Laden was reportedly buried at sea, and the U.S. government has yet to release any photographs of his body.
ABC News reported that a comparison sample might have come from his sister, who died in Boston of brain cancer. The U.S. might have collected samples from other family members as well.
There are several ways DNA can be tested to show whose it is. One technique - a reliable and well-known one -- is short tandem repeat analysis, which came into wide use in the 1990s. DNA is extracted from a sample and then tested for repeating nucleotides. Unrelated people usually have differing numbers of repeating nucleotides.
Most DNA testing is based on polymerase chain reaction, which basically means chemically duplicating a sample of DNA so that there is lots of it to work with.
Experts have said that the government probably will use more than one method, to make absolutely certain.