Hair from mummy’s clothes provides insights into red deer lineage

Hair from mummy’s clothes provides insights into red deer lineage

Analysis of deer hair from Tyrolen Icemen’s clothing unveils new information on red deer lineage.

Genetic analysis of Neolithic deer hair from from the clothing of a mummy discovered in the Italian Alps links deer population to modern day western European lineage, rather than the eastern lineage that are present in the Italian Alps today, according to a study published on July 2nd, 2014 in the journal PLOS ONE by Cristina Oliveri, of the University of Camerino, Italy and colleagues.

In the Italian Alps in 1991 a Tyrolean Iceman’s body, clothing and equipment were found in an exceptional condition, being extremely well preserved. The mummy would have lived in the Copper Age, approximately 5,300 years ago, and previous analysis suggests that Neolithic red deer were a good source of clothing, food and tools. However, there is little information about the lineage of the Neolithic red deer population. Combined with current lineage information about contemporary and ancient red deer population, scientists analysed red deer hair from the mummy’s clothing. The scientists collected DNA from the hair shafts collected from the fur that the mummy wore. They proceeded to use genetic analysis, sequencing the DNA and comparing the results with phlogeny of contemporary and ancient red deer populations.

Red Deer: WikiPedia

Red Deer: WikiPedia

Red deer are categorised into three genetic lineages, western, eastern and North-African/Sardinian. The genetic analysis of the Neolithic deer hair that was carried out exposed that the Alpine Copper Age red deer was of western European lineage. This has highlighted a contrast, as the current populations in the Italian Alps belong to the eastern lineage. The researchers suggest that these differences in lineage may highlight the impact of different glacial refugia and postglacial recolonization processes of the European red deer population.


Contributing Source: PLOS ONE

Header Image Source: Wikimedia

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