New research revealed the true appearance of ‘Ötzi’, the Iceman of the Alps

New research revealed the true appearance of 'Ötzi', the Iceman of the Alps

One analysis of the Iceman genome, ‘Ötzi’, the mummy frozen 5,000 years ago found on a glacier in the Alps, reveals that He had dark skin and eyes and a bald head.

“Genome analysis revealed phenotypic traits such as high skin pigmentation, dark eyes and male-pattern baldness, which contrast sharply with previous reconstructions, which showed a male with fair skin, light eyes and quite hairy,” explains researcher Johannes Krause, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (Germany). The mummy itself, however, is dark and hairless.”

The findings, published in Cell Genomics, suggest that the Living Iceman looked more like the current mummy, Designates. The genomic analysis, more complete and of higher quality, also shows that the iceman had an unusually high ancestry of farmers from early Anatolia, higher than that of any other contemporary population known in Europe of the fourth millennium BC.

The discovery suggests that Ötzi belonged to a rather isolated Alpine population, with limited gene flow from hunter-gatherer groups.

The Tyrolean iceman is One of the best preserved ice mummies and the oldest by far. As such, researchers have conducted many studies to learn who he was, including studies on the genomic and ancestral composition of the Iceman.

An earlier study, from 2012, generated a genome of lower coverage that offered new insights, despite considerable contamination by current human DNA.

That earlier work suggested a close genetic affinity between Ötzi and present-day Sardinians, but the researchers now say they reached those conclusions before more human genomes were available.

In the new study, the researchers, including Krause and Albert Zink of Eurac Research – Institute for Mummy Studies in Bolzano (Italy), resequenced Ötzi’s genome using Latest sequencing technologies to obtain a higher quality genome. What surprised them most was how the new data changes the picture of what Ötzi looks like.

“The most surprising results were the presence of alleles related to the masculinity-baldness pattern that support the absence of hair observed in the royal mummy and the rather dark skin pigmentation that also supports the mummy,” says Zink.

“It’s remarkable how the reconstruction is biased by our own preconceived idea of a Stone Age human from Europe.” Krause adds.

The large number of Anatolian ancestors was another surprise, he says, noting that Ötzi is more than 92 percent Anatolian ancestors of early farmers. The find recalls the extraordinary migratory history of Europeans.

The results also suggest that the Alps were a genetic barrier. Therefore, according to the researchers, the Iceman population did not exchange many genes with the peoples of the northern and western Alps.

Krause points out that it is unclear whether or not Ötzi is representative of the people of his time and place. And that to answer that question, future studies would have to look at more individuals from the same region and time.

(With information from EuropaPress)

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