At least 19 Austrians living in the Tyrol region are descendants of the 5,300-year-old Oetzi the ‘Iceman,’ a frozen, mummified body that was found in the Italian Alps in 1991.
"These men and the 'Iceman' had the same ancestors," Walther Parson, a researcher at the Institute for Forensic Medicine in Innsbruck, told the Austrian Press Agency.
Oetzi’s kin were found by screening DNA records of 3,700 Austrian blood donors. Scientists keyed on a rare Y-chromosome mutation, G-L91, which is a reliable indication of ancestral relations because it tends to be passed intact through generations. Since it’s on the Y-chromosome, G-L91 can only be used to track male descendants.
The researchers say there are likely many more than 19 living kin throughout the Alps region and that finding more descendants will help them understand ancient migration patterns in the region. Researchers have yet to inform the 19 of their relation to the Iceman.
Oetzi suffered from a variety of maladies, including heart disease, arthritis, tooth decay, but scientists think he met his end after being shot with an arrow. In the subsequent fall, he hit his head and injured his eye. Oetzi then apparently bled to death. Another theory says he may have received a ceremonial burial in the mountains.