In September 1991 the 5,300 old corpse of a man was found protruding from a glacier 3200 meters above sea level in the Ötzal Alps, Austria.

In 1995, Dr. Raul J. Cano, a microbiologist at the California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo had discovered that his lungs were infected with the mold known as Aspergillus and that they were as black as a smokers.

This is interesting given the fact that it has been estimated by scientists, that there are 600,000 deaths annually worldwide as result of this fungus. Pulmonary aspergilloma is caused by colonization and proliferation of Aspergillus in the lungs. Aspergillomas carry a 40% – 5 year survival rate so it is perfectly plausible that this is what may have caused Otzi the Iceman’s death.

Aspergillus is black on the surface and also causes the lungs to turn black with the presence of calcium oxalate and black deposits in lung parenchyma which is considered as evidence of an Aspergillus infection.

“I know that Aspergillus has been associated with lung disease, but we have no reason to believe he died of anything other than natural causes,” said Dr. Cano, who isolated the DNA of the fungus.


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