Oetzi the Iceman

The tiny drop of cloudy fluid at the bottom of the test tube looked quite unremarkable. It was DNA isolated from the 5000 year old body of Oetzi, the Ice Man, found high up in the Austrian Alps in 1991. My laboratory had been chosen to attempt the isolation and analysis of the Ice Man's DNA. This we managed to do and found that his DNA sequence was exactly the same as thousands of people living amongst us today.

  • The climbers Reinhold Messner (right) and Hans Kammerlander examine the Iceman in 1991.

Science aside, it was as if something of the Ice Man's spirit had come down from all those years ago. As well as surviving in the Ice Man, his DNA has also travelled unchanged through the millennia in his descendants. It is the same with your own DNA, handed down through countless generations of ancestors, which now resides within every cell of your body.