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Otzi the Iceman's last meal reveals remarkably high fat diet: Study

Press Trust of India  |  London 

The 5,300-year-old the Iceman's last meal was remarkably heavy on fat, according to the first in-depth analysis of the Iceman's contents which offers a rare glimpse of our ancestor's ancient dietary habits.

The findings, published in the journal Current Biology, offer important insights into the nutritional habits of European individuals, going back more than 5,000 years to the Copper Age.

They also offer clues as to how our ancient ancestors handled

"By using a complementary multi-omics approach combined with microscopy, we reconstructed the Iceman's last meal, showing that he has had a remarkably high proportion of fat in his diet, supplemented with wild meat from ibex and red deer, cereals from einkorn, and with traces of toxic bracken," said from the for Mummy Studies in Bolzano,

The researchers said that the analysis had not happened earlier because scientists were initially unable to identify the Iceman's because it had moved up during the mummification process.

In 2009, his was spotted during a re-investigation of CT scans, and an effort to analyse its contents was launched.

"The stomach material was, compared to previously analysed lower intestine samples, extraordinarily well preserved, and it also contained large amounts of unique biomolecules such as lipids, which opened new methodological opportunities to address our questions about Otzi's diet," Maixner said.

The researchers combined classical microscopic and modern molecular approaches to determine the exact composition of the Iceman's diet prior to his

The broad-spectrum approach allowed them to make inferences based on ancient DNA, proteins, metabolites, and lipids.

The analysis identified ibex adipose tissue as the most likely fat source. In fact, about half of the stomach contents were composed of adipose fat.

While the high-fat diet was unexpected, the researchers say it "totally makes sense" given the extreme alpine environment in which the lived and where he was found.

"The high and cold environment is particularly challenging for the human physiology and requires optimal nutrient supply to avoid and energy loss," said Albert Zink, also from the for Mummy Studies.

"The seemed to have been fully aware that fat represents an excellent energy source," said Zink.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Fri, July 13 2018. 17:50 IST