PATHOGENS FOUND IN ICE MAN’S STOMACH

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This is a picture of the Iceman (reconstruction by Adrie and Alfons Kennis). Credit: Reconstruction by Kennis © South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology, Foto Ochsenreiter

This is a picture of the Iceman (reconstruction by Adrie and Alfons Kennis).

Scientists are continually unearthing new facts about Homo sapiens from the mummified remains of Ötzi, the Copper Age man, who was discovered in a glacier in 1991. Five years ago, after Ötzi’s genome was completely deciphered, it seemed that the wellspring of spectacular discoveries about the past would soon dry up. An international team of scientists working with paleopathologist Albert Zink and microbiologist Frank Maixner from the European Academy (EURAC) in Bozen/Bolzano have now succeeded in demonstrating the presence ofHelicobacter pylori in Ötzi’s stomach contents, a bacterium found in half of all humans today. The theory that humans were already infected with this stomach bacterium at the very beginning of their history could well be true. The scientists succeeded in decoding the complete genome of the bacterium.

When EURAC’s Zink and Maixner first placed samples from…

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