Otzi the Iceman, the 5,300 year old mummy found in the Alps in 1991, seems to contain the oldest red blood cells that have ever been recognized in the modern world.
The mummy, discovered by two hikers trekking their way through the Alps on the Austrian-Italian border, has been the topic of much scientific study over the past 22 years.
Iceman Otzi was so well preserved being frozen in the ice that scientists have been able to identify things about him that don’t even seem possible. Everything from the fact that at the time of death, this 45 year old man had just finished a meal of red deer meat and herb bread, to the evidence that Otzi had actually been killed by an arrow to the shoulder, cutting through a main artery causing him to bleed out.
Albert Zink, the head scientist in the study of Otzi the Iceman has been nothing but thrilled with the discovery of the red blood cells.
“It was very surprising, because we didn’t really expect to find compete red blood cells,” Zink said. “We hoped to find maybe some remnants or shrunken red blood cells, but these are looking like a modern-day sample; the dimensions are the same.”
Iceman Otzi has officially provided scientists the first real evidence that the red blood cells have not differed from what our blood cells look like today.
“They have the typical form, this kind of doughnut-like shape of red blood cells,” Zink told LiveScience. “The dimensions are the same in modern-day samples, so we were really quite sure these were red blood cells that had been preserved for 5,000 years.”
Does the Otzi the Iceman findings surprise you at all?
Below is a video taking a closer look into the discovery of Otzi the Iceman.