Courtesy South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology via WikipediaOtzi, the five-thousand year-old corpse found frozen in a glacier in the Alps in 1991 has given up more secrets. Using a nano-sized probe, scientists at The Institute for Mummies and the Iceman in Bolzano, Italy have successfully extracted from the 5300 year-old "Iceman" the oldest samples of human blood known. The find surpasses that of Egyptian mummies by 2000 or so years, the previous record holder. What's more, the researchers have determined that Otzi died fairly quickly after taking an arrow in the back. Fibrin, a blood clotting protein that appears in fresh wounds then disappears as healing progresses, was present in the samples. This means the healing process stopped soon after Otzi was shot.
Check it out! There's this site with high resolution images of Otzi the Iceman. Here: http://www.icemanphotoscan.eu/
You can zoom in on the mummy, check out his tattoos under white and UV light, and look at a bunch of 3d photos of him (if you've got some blue and red glasses ready. I did, for some reason.)
It's pretty cool, so go check it out. Be aware though: you will be looking at pictures of a naked dead man, who is thousands of years old. Otzi has lost those particular parts that make a man most naked, but still, consider yourself warned.
I readily acknowledge the fact that I haven’t lived my life quite up to Otzi standards—I don’t have any tattoos (that I know of), I’ve never killed anybody (that I know of), I don’t own a cape…the list goes on—but I hope that when hikers find my frozen corpse, thousands of years in the future, they’ll be as thrilled with it as they are with Otzi. Honestly, every millimeter of our leathery friend is getting the once over and the double take.
Scientists figured out what Otzi’s last meal was years ago (they practically dove into his stomach), but they’re still going over the most minute of minutia of the iceman’s guts. And, you know what? I’m into it.
Archaeobotanists and moss-experts are the last to have taken a swing at Otzi. They have found trace remains of six different kinds of moss in Otzi’s intestines, and were able to identify them under a microscope. None of those moss varieties, interestingly, are the kinds of moss that you’d eat (if there are any kinds of moss you’d eat). They do, nonetheless, add to the details of Otzi’s life.
One of the kinds of moss, the scientists guess, was used to wrap one of Otzi’s last meals (sort of a fuzzy saran wrap, I guess), another probably got into his water, and another was most likely used as a dressing for a wound (he probably chewed it up and swallowed a little). At least one of the mosses, however it got into him, isn’t known to grow in the region where Otzi was found, adding another location to Otzi’s travel diary. So cross that off your bucket list, little dude.
None of this information is insulating my attic, or buying me dinner, but I still think it’s pretty cool. The same sort of forensic techniques we might use to solve a murder today are being used to learn about the life of a guy who died 53 centuries ago. I like it.
Courtesy japi14I think this came out a couple weeks ago, so maybe it’s old news to y’all—although, technically, I suppose it’s old news to everyone.
Otzi (Remember? Otzi the Iceman?) died alone.
No, wait, that didn’t come out right. Otzi the Iceman didn’t die alone—he probably died surrounded by his killers, after they had shot him in the chest with an arrow, as one of them likely finished him off by clubbing his skull in. What I meant was Otzi died alone in the genetic sense, with no one to carry on his legacy. (His legacy of being a five-foot-five total badass.)
It turns out that Otzi, in spite of his many, many admirable qualities, probably had no children. Or, at least, that Otzi’s lineage has died out since the time of his death.
Previous studies had suggested that Otzi may have had living descendants somewhere in Europe, but recent genetic research has shown that this is unlikely. Italian and British scientists have analyzed the iceman’s mitochondrial DNA—which is passed on solely matrilineally—and the results seem to indicate that Otzi was part of a heretofore unknown genetic line, and one that has probably gone extinct.
Oh, fudge. And here I was, still holding out hope.
What gives, caveladies? What was so bad about the little iceman? Too tough, I’m guessing. The same reason women could never get truly close to the Fonz.
*It occurs to me that Otzi could have had a child himself, and his mitochondrial DNA wouldn’t have been passed on. Maybe he just had equally intimidating sisters.
Does everyone remember Otzi the Iceman? The little frozen mummy they found in the Alps, back in the early Nineties? Of course you do. How could you forget something like that?
Otzi, at about 5300 years old, bears the distinction of being one of the oldest natural mummies in the world. Also, a five feet, five inches, and eighty-four pounds, he is one of the smallest people I am afraid of. And not just because he’s dead.
New research has finally put to rest (as it were) the question of Otzi’a death. It turns out that Otzi died as he lived: on a mountain, and totally hardcore. I will now list the evidence for this conclusion, in order of increasing bad-assness.
1) Otzi dressed all in leather. His cloak was made of woven grass, but his belt, vest, leggings, loincloth, and shoes were all leather. We know that’s what tough people wear.
2) Otzi wore a bearskin hat. I would never mess with anyone in a bearskin hat. Bears don’t give up their skin easily.
3) Otzi carried around a prehistoric medicine kit. Maybe this isn’t that hardcore, but it seems like a good idea. He had a string of two kinds of polypore mushrooms, which have antibacterial properties. Way to think ahead, Otzi!
4) Otzi had 57 tattoos. No elaboration needed.
5) Otzi carried an axe, a knife, a quiver of bone-tipped arrows, and a longbow. For comparison, I usually carry around my house keys, and sometimes a pen. John Rambo and Otzi probably shopped at the same stores, come to think of it.
5) The blood of four non-Otzi people was found on Otzi’s cloak. Whoa! After DNA analysis revealed this, some people began to speculate that Otzi may have been part of a raiding party. After baby showers, these are the roughest, toughest kind of parties around.
6) A recently constructed 3D model of Otzi’s body shows that he died of blood loss after getting shot with an arrow under his left collar bone. Previous examinations had revealed a wound beneath a matching tear in Otzi’s (leather) vest, inside of which was lodged an arrowhead, but the new CT scans clearly show that the arrow had torn an artery, which would have caused severe bleeding, shock, and eventually death by heart attack. A large haematoma, or a collection of blood from internal bleeding, was also revealed, which might suggest that the arrow was pulled out of the wound, shortly before death. The chances of surviving this sort of wound, even today, would be around 40%.
Wow. My hat goes off to you, little iceman.
There have been some cool shows about the iceman, but even wikipedia’s article is pretty interesting.
And here’s an article about the recent research on Otzi’s body.