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New scientific analysis shines a light on Otzi the Iceman’s dark secrets

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Posted June 12, 2013
Iceman Brain Red Blood Cells. Credit: Marek Janko, TU Darmstadt

Iceman Brain Red Blood Cells. Credit: Marek Janko, TU Darmstadt

After decoding the Iceman’s genetic make-up, a research team from the European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen (EURAC), Saarland University, Kiel University and other partners has now made another major breakthrough in mummy research: using just a pinhead-sized sample of brain tissue from the world-famous glacier corpse, the team was able to extract and analyse proteins to further support the theory that Ötzi suffered some form of brain damage in the final moments of his life.

Two dark coloured areas at the back of the Iceman’s cerebrum had first been mentioned back in 2007 during a discussion about the fracture to his skull. Scientists surmised from a CAT scan of his brain that he had received a blow to the forehead during his deadly attack that caused his brain to knock against the back of his head, creating dark spots from the bruising. Till now, this hypothesis had been left unexplored.

In 2010, with the help of computer-controlled endoscopy, two samples of brain tissue the size of a pinhead were extracted from the glacier mummy. This procedure was carried out via two tiny (previously existing) access holes and was thus minimally invasive. Microbiologist Frank Maixner (EURAC, Institute for Mummies and the Iceman) and his fellow scientist Andreas Tholey (Institute for Experimental Medicine, Kiel University) conducted two parallel, independent studies on the tiny bundles of cells. Tholey’s team provided the latest technology used in the study of complex protein mixtures known as “proteomes”. The various analyses were coordinated by Frank Maixner and Andreas Keller.

Read more at: Phys.org

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