News

    New DNA Study Reveals Glacier Mummy's Medical Problems

    A researcher inspects the 5,300-year-old mummy known as Oetzi, at the Archeological Museum of the Alto Adige in Bolzano, northern Italy, September 2000. (file photo)
    A researcher inspects the 5,300-year-old mummy known as Oetzi, at the Archeological Museum of the Alto Adige in Bolzano, northern Italy, September 2000. (file photo)

    European scientists say a recently completed DNA map of the Iceman - the well-preserved, 5,300-year-old mummy discovered in a melting Alpine glacier in 1991 - is yielding new details about the man's physical look, his ethnic origins and his health - including an apparent predisposition for heart disease.

    The details are described in a new paper by scientists at the European Academy for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy, and at the Institute for Human Genetics in Germany. Among the key findings is that the Iceman, whom scientists have nicknamed Oetzi, was genetically at risk for heart disease, even though he was neither sedentary nor overweight. Researchers say that fact is significant because it shows that the cardiovascular condition existed more than 5,000 years ago, and therefore cannot be associated primarily with modern lifestyles.

    In addition to his heart problems, Oetzi’s newly mapped genome reveals that he also suffered from the chronic tick-borne illness, Lyme disease, or borreliosis. The researchers say this is the earliest-known case of the bacterial infection, and provides proof that Lyme disease was present in the New Stone Age period.   

    Oetzi also was lactose intolerant, meaning he could not digest milk products. The scientists say this finding supports the theory that lactose intolerance - which persists today in most Asians and Africans but affects few northern Europeans - was still a common condition in Oetzi's time, even though his people were becoming increasingly involved in farming and the domestication of dairy animals.

    The researchers believe Oetzi’s ancestors likely hailed from the Middle East, and migrated to Europe as agriculture and cattle breeding continued to spread. They say the dwindling populations of modern-day Europeans who share the Iceman’s genetic heritage are found mostly in geographically isolated areas, such as the Mediterranean islands of Sardinia and Corsica.

    Oetzi's new DNA map also has helped researchers reconstruct the physical appearance of the ill-fated traveler. They say he had brown eyes and long, wavy brown hair, which scientists believe would have been worn loose. He stood approximately 1.6 meters tall --an average height for a man during the New Stone Age - and he weighed an estimated 50 kilograms.

    The analysis of the Iceman’s complete genome is published in the journal Nature Communications.

    Earlier studies concluded that Oetzi died at the venerable age of 45. However, later examinations of wounds on the mummy suggested the Iceman was murdered, fatally shot in the back with an arrow and left to die on an Alpine glacier.

    Many scientists believe that the high quality of the Iceman’s clothing and items he was carrying when he was killed, such as a fine copper axe, make it likely that Oetzi and his family had considerable social standing within their community.

    Oetzi the Iceman's frozen corpse was naturally mummified in the spot where he fell dead, more than 600 years before the first bricks were laid in Giza for Egypt's Great Pyramid. Entombed under a deepening layer of snow and ice, the mummy remained undisturbed until 1991, when two German hikers happened on the partially exposed corpse while trekking through the Oetztal Alps, near the Italian border.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Ahmed Shihab
    March 02, 2012 7:22 AM
    science progress so rapid and we can't predict what discover tomorrow

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora