Ötzi’s mummy, found in the Alps in 1991, has been the subject of a new genetic analysis. This paints a new picture of a man who died 5,300 years ago. Contrary to what we thought so far, his skin would be dark and he would be bald!
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On September 19, 1991, hikers made a surprising discovery on the Hauslabjoch glacier in the Austrian Alps. A discovery that today allows us to better understand how our ancestors lived at the end of the Neolithic.
Half-buried in the snow are the remains of a man who died more than 5,000 years ago. The body, exceptionally well preserved due to the natural process of mummification, would later reveal many details that would allow us to create the first portrait of this man and speculate about the circumstances of his death.
attacked in the back
From this find, the analyzes are connected and it is possible to determine that it was a man of about 45 years, measuring 1.60 m and weighing 50 kg. The poor man seemed to be affected by many diseases and ailments: arthritis, gallstones, cavities, clogged lungs, parasite attack, Lyme disease… However, these many conditions did not overwhelm him.
Because very quickly, scientists realized that Ötzi’s end was particularly violent. While his clothing and the objects found with him clearly indicate that he was on a long journey through the Alps (a reason that will surely always remain a mystery), it seems likely that Ötzi suffered a violent confrontation. Had to do He actually has “fresh” cut marks on his right arm, an arrowhead is embedded in his left shoulder blade, his skull is cracked from behind and his lips are cut. Several ribs are broken, however, so it is not possible to say whether this last fact occurred at the time of his death, before or after. So Ötzi must have died of hemorrhaging or trauma to the head. Analysis of the remains in their stomachs, which were also preserved, made it possible to describe what their last meal consisted of and thus to better understand the way of life of this Bronze Age man.
New DNA analysis reveals its origins
The conservation status also makes it possible to sequence its genome in 2012. From these results, we create the first picture of the man: brown but light skin, light eyes and lots of hair. It would also have a genetic signature that would bring it closer to current populations living in northern Sardinia and southern Corsica. Thus Otzi may have been one of the first Mediterranean farmers in Europe.
A study based on new, more accurate genetic sequencing has called into question the results. Posted in cell genomics, he first revealed that Otzi would have dark skin, dark eyes and would be affected by baldness! These results are consistent with the present appearance of the mummy, which has strong skin pigmentation and a complete absence of hair. The man may also have been a carrier of metabolic syndrome associated with type 2 diabetes and obesity! Its origin has also been revised due to better coverage of the human genome in general. He actually seems very close to the first farmers of Anatolia, with whom he shares 92% genetic similarity, and may have belonged to a different population in the Alps. Its genes actually show little admixture with the hunter-gatherer communities north of the mountain range, which at the time acted as a natural barrier, preventing some mixing of the populations.
However, it is not clear whether Otzi was a representative figure of the time and region. To answer this question, we will have to wait for new analyzes to be performed on larger numbers of individuals.
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