The Tyrolean ice man turned out to be a bald Anatolian with dark skin – scientists

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The Tyrolean Iceman turned out to be a bald Anatolian with dark skin, – scientists

The research group used advanced sequencing technologies to analysis of the Etzi genome in order to obtain a more accurate picture of the appearance and genetic origin of the Tyrolean Iceman.

The genetic composition of most modern Europeans was formed mainly as a result of the mixing of three groups of ancestors: Western hunter-gatherers gradually merged with early farmers who migrated from Anatolia about 8000 years ago. Later, approximately 4900 years ago, steppe people from Eastern Europe joined them.

The initial analysis of Etzi's genome revealed genetic traces of these steppe herders, but the new refined results no longer confirm this conclusion. The reason for the inaccuracy is that the original sample got modern DNA. 

Since the time of the first research, sequencing technologies have advanced significantly. In addition,  much more genomes of other prehistoric Europeans were completely deciphered. This made it possible to compare Etsa's genetic code with his contemporaries. It turned out that the Iceman has more in common with early Anatolian farmers than with any of his European brethren.

The researchers came to the conclusion that Etzi came from a relatively isolated group that had very little contact with other European populations. "We were very surprised that we did not find any traces of East European steppe shepherds in the most recent analysis of the Iceman genome. Fate  There are also very few hunter-gatherers. Genetically, his ancestors seem to have arrived directly from Anatolia, without mixing with groups of hunter-gatherers”, — explains Johannes Krause, co-author of the scientific paper and head of the department of archaeogenetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig. His skin type, already determined during the first genome analysis as Mediterranean-European, turned out to be even darker than previously thought. 

"This is the darkest skin tone that has been recorded in modern Europeans, — explains anthropologist Albert Zink, co-author of the study and head of the Eurac Research Institute for the Study of Mummies in Bolzano. — Previously, it was believed that the mummy darkened while it was in the ice. But, apparently, what we see now is actually to a large extent the original color of Etza's skin. This knowledge, of course, is also important for the proper preservation of the mummy.

Our previous idea about Etsy is also incorrect regarding his hair. Being a mature man, he most likely could no longer boast of long, thick hair. At best, it was a rare hair on the top of the head. His genes, in fact, show a predisposition to baldness. 

"This is a relatively clear result, which can also explain why almost no hair was found on the mummy,— says Zink. Genes that represent an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes were also found in Etsy's genome, but these factors probably did not play a role, thanks to his healthy lifestyle.

The study was published in the journal Cell Genomics.