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The Iceman cometh… from Corsica? New DNA profile reveals clues about frozen corpse Ötzi

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on February 29, 2012

The full genome of 5,300-year-old Ötzi the Iceman has been published revealing his eye colour, blood types and his nearest living relatives

 Ice to meet you: Ötzi was discovered frozen in the Italian Alps in 1991
Ice to meet you: Ötzi was discovered frozen in the Italian Alps in 1991

Scientists studying the world’s most famous frozen corpse have discovered new clues about the 5,300-year-old man.

The frozen mummified body of Ötzi the Iceman was discovered in the Italian Alps in 1991 and scientists have spent more than twenty years studying his DNA.

Now Ötzi’s full genome has been sequenced and published in Nature Communications.

A statue representing an iceman named Oetzi, discovered on 1991 in the Italian Schnal Valley glacier, is displayed at the Archaeological Museum of Bolzano
Frozen in time: A statue depicts what Ötzi looked like 5,300 years ago

The new data has revealed that the Iceman had brown eyes, had type-O blood, was lactose intolerant and genetically predisposed to heart disease.

It also suggests that the Iceman was the first documented case of infection by a Lyme disease bacterium.

The DNA also revealed clues as to the whereabouts of his closest living relations.

Although Ötzi’s body was discovered by hikers in the Italian Alps by the Italy/Austria border, he is thought to be more closely related to modern inhabitants of Corsica and Sardinia.

A researcher prepares to take samples of the 5,000-year-old body of a Bronze Age hunter known as "Oetzi"
Brrrreakthrough: A scientist takes samples from the frozen mummified corpse of the Iceman

Previous research has shown that Ötzi was tattooed, had tooth cavities and ate wild goats before he was killed by an arrow to the back.

The study, which studied the DNA found in the nuclei of Ötzi’s cells, was led by Dr Albert Zink, head of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy.

He told Nature Communications: “We would like to know as much as possible about his living conditions, about himself and also his cause of death.

“We really tried to reconstruct a crime scene as much as possible.”


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