Ötzi Made Epic Final Journey, Moss Shows

Kate Ravilious in National Geographic:

ScreenHunter_09 Dec. 06 10.31 Fragments of six species of moss found in his gut suggest that the ancient man used bog moss—a mildly antiseptic and highly absorbent variety—to treat an injury on his palm, scientists believe. Several conflict wounds, including an arrow wound in the shoulder, eventually killed him.

He likely used another species of moss to wrap his food.

Researchers are confident that Ötzi wasn't deliberately eating the moss, but that some of the plant matter stuck to his fingers as he ate.

“Moss is neither palatable, nor nutritious,” said study lead author James Dickson, an archaeobotanist at the University of Glasgow, U.K.

“You'd need to be starving to death before you eat moss,” he said.

The plant discoveries also help piece together his last journey, showing that the fit 46-year-old traveled vast distances in a short amount of time.

More here.

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