By By Tia Ghose, Staff Writer
Ötzi the Iceman, a stunningly preserved mummy found in the Italian Alps in 1991, has living relatives in the region, new genetic analysis shows.
The study, published in the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics, found that the 5,300-year-oldmummy has at least 19 male relatives on his paternal side.
"We can say that the Iceman and those 19 must share a common ancestor, who may have lived 10,000 to 12,000 years ago," study co-author Walther Parson, a forensic scientist at the Institute of Legal Medicine in Innsbruck, Austria, wrote in an email. "In that sense, those 19 are closer related to the Iceman than other individuals. We usually think about our families when we talk about relatives. However, these data demonstrate that DNA can also be used to trace relatives much further back in time." [Mummy Melodrama: Top 9 Secrets About Ötzi the Iceman]
Ötzi may be the most well-studied Neolithic man ever discovered. He was astonishingly well preserved when he was uncovered in the Ötztal Alps, and since then, scientists have scrutinized his clothes and probed his body. They found the Iceman had tooth decay, ate an agricultural diet and had Lyme disease. The researchers have even determined that Ötzi died in an ambush after being bashed on the head, and then bled to death after a deadly arrow pierced an artery in his shoulder.
But Parson and his colleagues stumbled upon the Iceman mummy's relatives by accident. The team was studying how the geography of the Alps may have affected the genetics of the people in this region of Europe. ...more