Otzi the Iceman's final journey retraced using moss

Moss residuals yielded clues to prehistoric iceman Otzi's last trek through the Alps before his violent end.


NSFW    SOUTH TYROL, ITALY — Frozen plant species buried with Otzi the Iceman has allowed scientists to trace the unusual route he took before his death.

Otzi the Iceman was a hunter who died in the Alps 5,300 years ago. His mummified body was discovered near the Italy-Austria border in 1991.

According to Science News, he was believed to have died due to freezing temperatures in the Italian Alps. But the discovery of an arrowhead in his left shoulder has led scientists to believe he was deliberately killed.

A new study from the University of Glasgow examined fragments of frozen vegetation buried alongside or inside Otzi, which includes 75 different species of mosses and liverworts.

Only 30% of the species are local, others were likely transported via Otzi's clothing or inside his gut.

According to New Scientist, researchers found a type of bog moss in Otzi's colon that is used to staunch wounds, and may have been used to treat a gash on his palm.

His intestines also contained the moss Neckera complanata and traces of pollen.

Both moss species are found in low-elevation woodlands, while Otzi was found 3,200 meters above sea level.

This suggests the Iceman travelled from the forests below and went through Schnalstal valley on his final ascent.

Researcher James Dickson says Otzi the Iceman's route through the gorge was the most stressful way up the mountain, but fits with the assumption that he was hiding and running away from someone.
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