The mystery of Ötzi the Iceman, the 5,300 frozen mummy discovered in the Easter Alps about 20 years ago, may have been solved. Scientists said it appears dear, old Ötzi may have had the oldest known case of Lyme disease, the eventually led to his demise.
Researchers analyzed the Iceman's genome and discovered his genetic material from bacterium responsible for the disease that is spread through ticks.
The evidence of Lyme disease is an intriguing investigative lead, according to Dr. Steven Schutzer, an immunologist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey-New Jersey Medical School, reported Fox News. Shutzer is a lead investigator that sequenced 17 strains of Lyme diseases modern bacteria, called Borrelia burgdoferi.
Now we know what we want to look for, now that we know there is a possibility of that being here, we can do a very targeted approach that looks for Borrelia, said Shutzer, according to Fox News.
Humans get Lyme disease, which was first found in the United State in Connecticut in the mid-1970s, from tick bites.
The genome analysis concluded that Ötzi was approximately 46 years old at the time of his death, stood about 5 feet, 2 inches, had brown eyes and was lactose intolerant. They also concluded that he suffered from hardening of arteries and was prone to cardiovascular disease.
What is striking about the discovery is that it points out that cardiovascular disease is not merely a modern illness associated with current lifestyles. Researchers are confident they can learn from Ötzi to determine genetic causes of heart disease.
The evidence that such a genetic predisposition already existed in Otzi's lifetime is of huge interest to us, said Albert Zink, one of the leading researchers on the project and head of the European Institute for Mummies and the Iceman at the European Academy of Bozen/Bolzano, according to Yahoo. It indicates that cardiovascular disease is by no means an illness chiefly associated with modern lifestyles. We are now eager to use these data to help us explore further how these diseases developed.
Scientists also concluded where Ötzi's ancestors came from. They concluded that based on his DNA his family originated in Eastern Europe.
This original population was somehow replaced by other populations, but they remained quite stable in remote areas like Sardinia and Corsica,
However, even with all of his health problems, scientists concluded in 2007 that he most likely died a violent death. He was most likely struck in the back with an arrow and bled to death. Lesions were found underneath his clavicle bone causing him to die in a short period of time.
Such obvious proof of a vascular lesion in a body of this historic age is unique, and it helped to determine the cause of this extraordinary death without a destructive autopsy, Frank Rühli, researcher of the Institute of Anatomy at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, said, according to Live Science. We look forward to further investigating the circumstances surrounding the Iceman's sudden death.