Living relatives of iceman mummy found


Ötzi the Iceman has at least 19
living male relatives in the Austrian Tirol, according to a genetic study into
the origins of the people who now inhabit the region.
Scientists from the Institute of
Legal Medicine at Innsbruck Medical University analyzed DNA samples taken from

3,700 blood donors in the Tyrol region of Austria.

During their study, they
discovered that 19 individuals share a particular genetic mutation with the
5,300-year-old mummy, whose full genome was published last year.
 “These men and the Iceman had the same
ancestors,” Walther Parson, the forensic scientist who carried out the study,
told the Austrian Press Agency.
The researchers focused on parts
of the human DNA which are generally inherited unchanged.
“In men it is the Y chromosomes
and in females the mitochondria. Eventual changes arise due to mutations, which
are then inherited further,” Parson explained.
People with the same mutations
are categorized in haplogroups. Designed with letters, haplogroups allow
researchers to trace early migratory routes since they are often associated
with defined populations and geographical regions.
Indeed, Ötzi’s haplogroup is very
rare in Europe.
So far the 19 individuals have not been informed of
their genetic relationship to Ötzi.
“The Iceman had the haplogroup G,
sub category G-L91. In our research we found another 19 people with this
genetic group and subgroup,” Parson said.
Having carried Y chromosome
haplogroup analysis, Parson was able to trace only the male descendants of the
Neolithic man.
So far the 19 individuals have
not been informed of their genetic relationship to Ötzi.
Found in 1991 in a melting
glacier in the Ötztal Alps (hence the name), the mummy is one of the most
heavily investigated human corpses of all time.
Scientists discovered that Ötzi
had brown eyes and very bad teeth, was lactose intolerant, had a genetic
predisposition for an increased risk for coronary heart disease and probably
had Lyme disease.
It’s certain he died a violent
death: In 2007, CT scans showed that an arrowhead had lacerated his left
subclavian artery, leading to fast bleeding.
CAT scan of the mummy’s brain and
a paleoproteomic study have recently pointed to a cerebral trauma — a violent
blow to the head — as the cause of death.
As investigation into the mummy
continues, new relatives, alive and well, could be added to the list of the 19
According to Parson, the genetic
mutation might be also found in the nearby Swiss region of Engadine and in
Italy’s South Tyrol region.
“We have already found Swiss and
Italian partners so that we can continue our research,” he said.
Credits : A reconstruction of Otzi the Iceman — a remarkably well preserved
5,300-year-old mummy sometimes lovingly called “Frozen Frit” — created
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