Museum of Science and Industry


While we often view "cavemen" as brutish lugs whose only threat was other cavemen, it turns out that Ötzi, the frozen "iceman" discovered in 1991, was actually riddled with health problems.

Scientists already knew that Ötzi suffered from arteriosclerosis, or a hardening of the artery walls. However, it turns out he was predisposed to this condition, as opposed to having the risk factors we connect with it: drinking, smoking, inactivity and being overweight (all presumably uncommon among hunter-gatherers of the time). It suggests that we may be less able to prevent arteriosclerosis than we thought.

Besides bad arteries, good ole' Ötzi was also the first known carrier of Lyme disease and was lactose intolerant. Whatever led to his final trek in the Alps, one hopes he was on his way to the Ice Age version of a hospital.

Image: (reconstruction) Kennis and Kennis/South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology

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