German scientists are helping decode the genome of the 5,300-year-old Tyrolean “iceman” Ötzi, which could answer the tantalising question of whether he has living descendants, it was revealed this week.

Ötzi, found in 1991 by two German tourists in the Alps on the border of Italy and Austria, is Europe’s oldest natural human mummy.

Examination of his mummified body has already yielded unprecedented insight into the life of Europeans in the “copper age.” Now, researchers at the European Academy of Bolzano and the University of Tübingen, together with bioinformatics experts in Heidelberg, hope his DNA will yield an ocean of new understanding.

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