A research team used advanced sequencing technology to analyze Ötzi’s genome to obtain a more accurate picture of the Iceman’s appearance and genetic origins.
Ötzi's genome was decoded for the first time more than 10 years ago. It was also the first time that the genome of a mummy had been sequenced. These results provided important insights into the genetic makeup of prehistoric Europeans. Advances in sequencing technology since then have now enabled a research team from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Eurac Research to reconstruct his genome more accurately. The results of this recent analysis complete the Iceman’s genetic picture and cast aside some older theories: no genetic traces of the Steppe Herders from Eastern Europe were found in Ötzi's genome. In contrast, Ötzi’s genome has an unusually high proportion of genes in common with those of early farmers from Anatolia compared to other contemporary Europeans. In addition, the study yielded entirely new findings about the Iceman’s appearance that call into question his iconic portrayal: at the time of his death, Ötzi almost certainly did not have thick long hair, instead he had advanced hair loss and may have even been bald. Furthermore, his skin was darker than previously thought. Ötzi’s genes also show a predisposition to diabetes and obesity. These findings have just been published in Cell Genomics.