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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Otzi, the prehistoric 'iceman,' probably has no modern descendants

Franco Rollo / AFP/Getty Images
This undated handout picture shows the 5,300-year-old remains of Otzi the Iceman, the mysterious mummified man found high in the Alps in 1991 and preserved over the millennia thanks to deep chill and layers of snow. More photos >>>
A DNA study on his 5,300-year-old corpse indicates his lineage became 'extinct.' The findings contradict previous research on the body found frozen in the Tirolean Alps in 1991.
By reuters
November 1, 2008
Otzi, Italy's prehistoric "iceman," probably does not have any modern-day descendants, according to a study published Thursday.

A team of Italian and British scientists who sequenced his mitochondrial DNA -- which is passed down through the mother's line -- found that Otzi belonged to a genetic lineage that is either extremely rare or has died out.

"Our research suggests that Otzi's lineage may indeed have become extinct," Martin Richards of Leeds University in Britain, who worked on the study, said in a statement.

The findings published in the journal Current Biology reverse research from 1994 on a small section of Otzi's DNA that suggested the iceman had relatives living in Europe.

Richards and colleagues said their analysis confirmed that Otzi belonged to a previously unidentified lineage that has not been seen to date in modern European populations.

Scientists were thrilled to find Otzi's mummified body had remained well preserved for more than 5,000 years.

Evidence shows he was probably a hunter.