Eideard

DNA tests find living descendants of Uncle Ötzi

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A team of Austrian researchers have made a discovery that would put those genealogy websites to shame: they have located several living descendants of a 5,300-year-old human mummy.

The prehistoric individual, known as Ötzi the Iceman, was originally found frozen in the Alps back in 1991, according to Steve Nolan of the Daily Mail. The so-called ice mummy suffered from the oldest case of Lyme disease recorded to date, and was also lactose intolerant and predisposed to cardiovascular disease.

Now, forensic scientist Walther Parson and colleagues from the Institute of Legal Medicine at Innsbruck Medical University have identified 19 men who share a specific genetic mutation with Ötzi. These individuals were identified following an analysis of DNA samples from approximately 3,700 blood donors in the state of Tyrol, which is located in the western part of Austria.

“The discovery was made during a broader study into determining the origins of the people who now inhabit the Alpine regions. Along with their blood the donors were asked to provide their place of birth and family history,” said Matthew Day of The Telegraph.

To date, none of the men identified have been informed of their genetic link to Ötzi, Parson told Day. He added his research team is working with colleagues in Italy and Switzerland who are attempting to uncover the same genetic mutation in residents of those two nations…

“Painstaking research revealed what his last meals were, where he lived and that he was about 45 years old when he met his demise high on the mountain,” Day added. “The ice had also preserved his clothes and a quiver of arrows, giving scientists a unique insight into the lives and technology of people from thousands of years ago.”

Wonderful work. Modern genetic testing makes determinations possible which previous generations of researchers couldn’t begin to consider. Can’t wait for the next couple of chapters from Switzerland and Italy.

Maybe he was one of my own uncles? :)

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Written by Ed Campbell

October 15, 2013 at 8:00 am

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