Back to Homepage



Page 3 of the part 4: Who were the ancestors of the Europeans?

Who were the ancestors of the Europeans? There is, in fact, already an answer to this question. The answer came from the analyses of DNA samples collected from the millions of Europeans and European immigrants who lived in North America. Their patrilineal ancestor was a male with the M168 genetic marker and their matrilineal ancestor was a woman with the L3 genetic marker. They were all, without exception, descendants of Y chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve. 

Then, who were the descendants of the ancient peoples or Australopithecus? How did they live? Who was Otzi the Iceman? Were the Cro-Magnon people ancestors of the Europeans? Were the Neanderthal ancestors of Europeans? Fortunately, by using DNA decoding, we could get a clear cut answer to all these questions..

I. Was Otzi the Iceman an extinct race?

Some reports claim that Otzi the Iceman is an extinct race. This, however, is a big misunderstanding.  

Figure 4-6: Relevant Photos of the Otzi the Iceman


1.Reports about Otzi the Iceman

In 1991, German mountain climbers, Mr. Simon and Mrs. Simon, discovered a well-preserved corpse on top of Otzi Mountain on the Italian side of the Austrian-Italian border. This corpse was named Iceman Otzi (or Otzi Iceman). Soon after this discovery, scientists began to meticulously research Iceman Otzi. 

Iceman Otzi lived about 5,300 years ago and died at around 45 years old. He was 1.65 meters tall and weighed 50 kilograms. He wore straw-weaved robe, leather vests and waterproof shoes made from bear and deerskin.

Based on the analyses of pollen, dust and enamel from his tooth, Iceman Otzi spent his childhood in Bolzano in the northern part of Italy. An autopsy revealed that he had blackened lungs, which presumably was due to prolonged inhalation of campfire smoke. Analyses of his gastrointestinal contents revealed that he ate lamb and red deer meat, cereals, fruits and bread within 8 hours of his death,
Hair analyses showed that his hair contained a high level of copper and arsenic particles because Otzi carried an axe made of high purity (99.7%) copper. Scientists hypothesized that Otzi participated in copper refinery work. 

Another autopsy finding revealed an arrow wound in his shoulder. Even though the shaft of the arrow was pulled out, but the arrowhead was left behind in his body. Iceman Otzi’s attempt to pull out the arrowhead aggravated his wound and thus he died from excessive blood loss. He was getting ready to go to the valley 8 hours prior to death and had placed his copper axe and quiver containing 14 arrows beside him. One can deduce from this that Otzi was resting with his belongings next to him before he died.  

In addition to these weapons, the Iceman also carried along some drugs, some with stimulant properties.  The Iceman’s body is covered with over 50 tattoos in the form of groups of lines and crosses. Thus, the tattoos were probably one for therapeutic measures rather than for aesthetic purposes. Several groups of vertical lines are located to the left and right of the spinal column, on the left calf, on the right instep and on the inner and outer ankle joint. Two lines cross the left wrist. A cross-shaped mark appears on the back of the right knee and beside the left Achilles tendon. The locations of these tattoos are comparable to Chinese acupuncture points. These tattoos were perhaps there to treat the parasites in his digestive system as well as to treat degenerative bone disease. 

It is indeed amazing and truly invaluable that scientists had obtained such detailed information from this person who lived over 5,300 years ago. However, who was his ancestor? Who were his descendants? One can only find answers to these questions by analyzing his DNA decoding. 


2. Iceman Otzi’s Mitochondrial DNA Decoding


Iceman Otzi was discovered in the Italian city of Bolzano in the Tyrol region. Therefore, another name for Iceman Otzi is Tyrolean Iceman. Since the Iceman was discovered at the Austrian-Italian border, there were several disputes concerning ownership. The final and most accurate site determination placed the Iceman within 92.56 meter of the Italian border. Thus, the Iceman is kept in the Italian archaeological museum in the city of Bolzano. In recent years, this museum showcases exceedingly clear photos of the Iceman on its website:

They are truly amazing! 

In the 2008 November issue of “Current Biology”, there was a publication entitled: Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequence of the Tyrolean Iceman. The authors were from the Institute for Biomedical Technologies, National Research Council of the University of Camerino in Italy and the University of Leeds in the UK.(Reference 1). The analysis of mitochondrial DNA decoding not only furthered our understanding of the Iceman but also clarified his maternal origin. This information could not have been obtained from an ordinary autopsy on the Iceman. 

Moreover, scientists obtained the complete sequence of Otzi’s mitochondrial DNA. This is currently the first and most complete mitochondrial DNA sequence of the most ancient “modern man”. Scientists compared the sequence with the revised Cambridge Reference Sequence (rCRS) and found a30-letter code difference. They then listed every mutational change for each letter code.

Meanwhile, scientists compared Otzi’s sequence with the DNA mutational loci on the Mitochondrial lineage tree and confirmed that Otzi’s maternal lineage belongs to a branch below the K1 haplogroup, with the K1e haplogroup being the closest branch. Based on this publication, experts who managed the matrilineal lineage tree named the Iceman’s mitochondrial DNA haplogroup the K1f haplogroup. 


Figure 4-7 The location of Iceman Otzi’s Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroups


3. The decoding of Iceman Otzi’s Y chromosome DNA

In the 2012 February issue of Nature Communications there was an article on a research study on the Iceman entitled: “ New insights into the Tyrolean Iceman’s origin and phenotype as inferred by whole-genome sequencing) (Reference 3). The 41 researchers came from 19 different research organizations from 6 countries including Italy, Germany and the U.S. This report is the most current account of the complete genome sequence of the oldest “modern man”. This report clearly confirmed that the Iceman’s Y chromosome haplogroup G is a branch of haplogroup G2a4.



Figure 4-8 The position of the Iceman’s Y chromosome genetic markers and haplogroup on the patrilineal tree (Reference 4)


Figure 4-9 The distribution map of Iceman Otzi’s Y chromosome haplogroup and nearby haplogroup


DNA samples were collected from 7,797 persons representing 30 different ethnic groups all over Europe.  The researchers found that only in the Italian island of Sardinia and French Corsica the proportion of population with the L91 marker G2a4 was 12% whereas in all other regions there were only 2% or less. Results showed that the Iceman had the closest paternal lineage with inhabitants in Sardinia in Italy and Corsica from France. In the opinion of the researchers, even though Iceman Otzi was found in the European continent where his descendants are very scarce. However, his lineage was passed on mainly on these two islands.


4. What does one see from Iceman Otzi’s DNA?

What Iceman Otzi’s DNA revealed were secrets which could not have been detected by previous technology.  From the first few chapters, we have already seen that one can infer from the DNA sequences of our ancestors the DNA sequence of modern man. From the Iceman’s DNA we actually saw the DNA sequence of the ancestors of modern man. The results after comparisons were made reconfirmed the accuracy the fact that the DNA sequence of modern man is built on the paternal and maternal trees.


Otzi’s DNA validated the fact that our genealogy is written in the cells of our bodies. No one can deny this fact. Moreover, it further proves the reliability of tracing one’s blood lineage via DNA testing and shows how DNA testing is superior to other methods of inference such as the examination of fossils or human remains. Using DNA testing to trace one’s genealogy thoroughly resolves the problems posted by human ethnic history and modern human genealogical geography, problems that were unsolvable in the past. 


 Cro-Magnon Man is the Ancestor of European


1. Archaeological Discovery of the Cro-Magnon Man

In 1868, in the Dordogne region of southwest France, five sets of human bones (2 male, 2 female and one child) were found in Les Eyzies, at the Shelter Cro-Magnon. In addition to the human fossils, there were a large number of stone tools and sea shells with perforated holes apparently used for decoration. Subsequently, similar fossils were discovered in many places in Europe. All of them have strikingly similar skeletal structures, thus all are known as the “Cro-Magnon” man.


Figure 4-10 Mural of the Cro-Magnon man

Comparing with modern European, the Cro-Magnon man has a larger skull, a sturdier physique with the brain capacity of 1600 ml in males and 1402 ml in females. However, when compared to the Neanderthals who once lived in Europe, the physique of Cro-Magnon man resembles modern man much more. The remarkably beautiful fine painting and their religious rituals far exceeded the Neanderthal man.

When did the Cro-Magnon man first appeared in Europe? For many years, scientists have been interested in this topic. The answer came  in 2011.

In the town of Torquay at the southern tip of England, there is an ancient cave named Kent’s Cavern. This cave has attracted the attention of many archaeologists for years. For many decades, Torquay has been a tourist town. In 1927, the Torquay Natural History Society excavated a human jaw fossil from a cave. Comparative analysis of the teeth structure revealed that it belonged to the remains of the Cro-Magnon man and not the Neanderthal man. In 1989, carbon 14 analysis confirmed that they lived between 347,000 to 364,000 years ago. In 2011, further research revealed that they lived between 415,000 to 442,000 years ago. Up to the present time, this is proof of the time period of when the most ancient modern European had lived. (Reference 5).

Where did the Cro-Magnon man who apparently possessed so much wisdom come from? Was he the ancestor of modern European? These questions had troubled archeologists for hundreds of years without any reliable answers.


How should one resolve these questions? The answer, of course, is to perform DNA decoding on the Cro-Magnon remains. 

2. Mitochondrial DNA decoding of the Cro-Magnon Man

It is indeed fortunate that the Cro-Magnon man left us samples of their DNA.

In southern Italy, there is a small town call Rignano Garganico with a famous archaeological site, namely the Paglicci Cave. In this cave, large number of Paleolithic tools , human and animal remains as well as murals were discovered. The Rignano Garganico’s Museum was founded in this town.

In 2003, two human skeletons were found in this cave. After analyses, the remains were found to belong to a little boy and the other to a young woman. Both wore deer bone or deer teeth as decorations. Archaeologists confirmed that they belonged to the Cro-Magnon man who lived around 28,000 years ago. 


Even more exciting was a tibia among the remains from which researchers successfully extracted a mitochondrial sample which later was named Palice 123. From this sample, the researchers obtained the first hyper-variable  region HVR1 DNA sequence (Please see related information in Chapter 3).In July 2008, the University of Florence and Ferrara University and other research institutes in Italy published an article (Reference 6) entitled:“ A 28,000 Years Old Cro-Magnon mtDNA Sequence Differs from All Potentially Contaminating Modern Sequences.”


The core of this article is to reveal the mitochondrial DNA sequence from the tibia as well as mitochondrial DNA sequences from 7 researchers who might have come in contact with the tibia sample. Its ultimate purpose is to show that the mitochondrial DNA sequence of the Cro-Magnon man has not been contaminated by modern man.




Figure 4-11 Comparison between the Cambridge sequence and Cro-Magnon/modern man


Figure 4-11 is based on the data presented in this article (Reference 7) to create the mitochondrial DNA comparison map. From this map one can see that the mitochondrial DNA of the Cro-Magnon man and the Cambridge sequence is exceedingly similar. In the mitochondrial hyper-variable region HVR1, there are only a difference of 8 mutation loci among 330 loci (from 16037 to 16366). This minor difference is the same as the DNA sequence difference between modern man and the Cambridge sequence.


Also from this map one can see the distinct difference between the mitochondrial DNA mutations in the researchers and the mutations from samples of the Cro-Magnon man thereby confirming that these samples were not contaminated by the DNA from modern man.


The conclusion from this article is as follows:

 “Conclusions/Significance: The Paglicci 23 individual carried a mtDNA sequence that is still common in Europe, and which radically differs from those of the almost contemporary Neandertals, demonstrating a genealogical continuity across 28,000 years, from Cro-Magnoid to modern Europeans.” (Reference 7)


A problem which had bothered archaeologist for centuries was finally and so easily solved. For this example we can see that DNA decoding is the most powerful weapons in archaeological research.