Hints of Ötzi's genome

By Razib Khan | June 20, 2011 8:39 pm

John Hawks points to a report in Science on some morsels of information about Ötzi-the-Iceman’s genetics, The Iceman’s Last Meal:

Also at the meeting, researchers led by geneticist Angela Graefen of the Institute for Mummies and the Iceman reported that they have succeeded in sequencing the Iceman’s whole genome, despite the highly fragmented nuclear DNA. The genome has already revealed some surprises. One preliminary finding shows that the Iceman probably had brown eyes rather than the blue eyes found in many facial reconstructions done by artists. Graefen and her colleagues are also examining the DNA to see if Ötzi possessed genetic predispositions to diseases such as arthritis, which other researchers have diagnosed based on radiological and other evidence.

I’m assuming we’ll know a whole lot more before the end of summer. So I’m going to go out on a limb and make a prediction based on what I suspect about the southern European genetic landscape ~5,000 years ago: Ötzi will be more like contemporary West Asian people, Georgians, Armenians, etc., than modern north Italians and south Germans are. Right or wrong, I hope the results will be interesting!

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Genetics, Genomics
  • free thinker

    My prediction is that Ötzi-the-Iceman will have a good deal of Paleolithic European ancestry. Mitochondrial studies suggest that these people were largely replaced by the Neolithic expansion, but the Swiss Alps is a place where hunter gatherers could have held on the longest. Also the contents of his stomach and his clothing suggest that Ötzi derived his living at least as much from hunting as from agriculture. I would expect an Admixture run would show some affinities with the Berbers and perhaps the Laplanders as well as the expected affinity with Neolithics. I believe that the Southern European group in Dienekes’s study–typified by the Sardinians–is the best proxy we have right now for the Neolithic expansion, but we will soon have much better ones.

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About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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