Ötzi the Iceman has at least 19 living male relatives in the Austrian Tirol, according to a genetic study into the origins of the people who now inhabit the region.
Scientists from the Institute of Legal Medicine at Innsbruck Medical University analyzed DNA samples taken from 3,700 blood donors in the Tyrol region of Austria.
During their study, they discovered that 19 individuals share a particular genetic mutation with the 5,300-year-old mummy, whose full genome was published last year. “These men and the Iceman had the same ancestors,” Walther Parson, the forensic scientist who carried out the study, told the Austrian Press Agency.
The researchers focused on parts of the human DNA which are generally inherited unchanged. “In men it is the Y chromosomes and in females the mitochondria. Eventual changes arise due to mutations, which are then inherited further,” Parson explained.
People with the same mutations are categorized in haplogroups. Designed with letters, haplogroups allow researchers to trace early migratory routes since they are often associated with defined populations and geographical regions.
Indeed, Ötzi’s haplogroup is very rare in Europe. “The Iceman had the halogroup G, sub category G-L91. In our research we found another 19 people with this genetic group and subgroup,” Parson said.