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Most likely, none of us is related to early 'iceman'

November 01, 2008|Reuters

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.

Otzi's 5,300-year-old corpse was found frozen in the Tirolean Alps in 1991.

"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.

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