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Iceman Otzi's Genetic Heritage Uncovered: Mother's Line Went Extinct

First Posted: Jan 14, 2016 04:22 PM EST
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Scientists have made some new discoveries concerning Iceman Otzi's heritage. Researchers have taken a closer look at the genetic history of a man who lived in the Eastern Alps over 5,300 years ago.

In 2012, a complete analysis of the Y chromosome showed that Otzi's paternal genetic line is still present in modern-day populations. In contrast, studies of mitochondrial DNA, which is DNA transmitted solely via the mother to her offspring, left many questions still open.

In order to see whether the genetic maternal line of the Iceman left its mark on current populations, the researchers compared the man's mitochondrial DNA with 1,077 modern samples. Interestingly, the researchers found that the Iceman's maternal line, named K1f, is now extinct.

However, the researchers were able to find out a bit more about the origin of K1f. It's likely that the mitochondrial lineage originated locally in the Alps in a population that did not grow demographically.

Currently, researchers aren't sure why Otzi's maternal lineage has disappeared while his paternal lineage, named G2a, still exists in Europe. The researchers believe that it's possible that the paternal lineage of Otzi was common in different regions in Europe during the Neolithic age while his maternal lineage probably existed only in the Alps.

The findings reveal a bit more about the genetic history of Iceman Otzi. This, in particular, may tell scientists a bit more about the ancient lineages of humans in general.

The findings are published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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