Researchers have found examples of the oldest known samples of red blood cells. Using a new technique involving a probe that captures 3D imagery, the team of researchers at the European Academy of Bozen found the ancient cells in the body of Iceman a.k.a. Ötzi, a mummy found imbedded in an Alpine glacier in 1991. Iceman is believed to have died roughly 5,300 years ago. Scientists estimate he was approximately 46 years old at the time of his death, which was most likely caused by a blow to the head.

 AFM images of red blood cells (RBCs). (a,b) Single RBCs from recent human tissue. (c) An assembly of RBCs. (d,e) Single corpuscles found in Iceman sample A and sample B are shown. An assembly of several randomly distributed corpuscles, similar to those found within the recent sample (c), are displayed in image (f). The imaged corpuscles (d–f) feature the characteristic discoid and concave surface of RBCs. Credit: Journal of the Royal Society Interface, DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2012.0174 Via: Phys.org. Image 1. AFM images of red blood cells (RBCs). (a,b) Single RBCs from recent human tissue. (c) An assembly of RBCs. (d,e) Single corpuscles found in Iceman sample A and sample B are shown. An assembly of several randomly distributed corpuscles, similar to those found within the recent sample (c), are displayed in image (f). The imaged corpuscles (d–f) feature the characteristic discoid and concave surface of RBCs. Credit: Journal of the Royal Society Interface, DOI: 10.1098/rsif.2012.0174 Via: Phys.org