Friday, August 13, 2010

Gene Map to Give Insight into 5,200-year-old Iceman

Iceman, the Neolithic mummy found accidentally in the Eastern Alps by German hikers in 1991, has offered researchers all sorts of clues to life 5,200 years ago, from his goat-hide coat to the meat and unleavened bread in his stomach to the arrow wound in his shoulder.

Now, scientists stand poised to find out a whole lot more about Iceman, who also goes by Ötzi, Frozen Fritz and Similaun Man.

They recently finished sequencing the Iceman's genome, which took about three months – a feat made possible by whole genome sequencing technology. With that map of his genes in hand, researchers are moving onto to a whole new array of questions, according to Albert Zink, head of the European Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano (EURAC) in Italy.

"Some are very simple, like so 'What was really the eye color of the Iceman? What was really his hair color?'" Zink said. There are more complicated questions, too. Zink and others are curious about any genetic evidence of disease in the Iceman and the composition of his immune system.

Parry, Wynne. 2010. "Gene Map to Give Insight into 5,200-year-old Iceman". Live Science. Posted: August 5, 2010. Available online:

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