Perth researchers have breathed life into a decades-old German mystery about the body of an unknown man found floating in the North Sea, using the saying “you are what you eat” to discover he may be from Australia.
The man, dubbed “Gentleman” by investigators in 1994 after his body was found by police off the coast of Heligoland, a German archipelago, was weighed down by cast-iron cobbler’s feet.
He was nicknamed The Gentleman because of his smart clothes; a wool tie, British-made shoes, French-made trousers and a long-sleeved blue shirt.
The case has baffled German police for 28 years, but criminologists and forensic pathologists from Murdoch University may have helped solve the mystery after running new tests.
They found the man spent most of his life in Australia. Investigators in the 1990s determined he was 45 to 50 years old.
The discovery marks the final day of Australia’s National Missing Person’s Week on Saturday.
Scientists made the discovery following the “you are what you eat” principle by performing an isotope ratio analysis of The Gentleman’s bones.
Differences in climate, soils, and human activity across the globe change the isotopic composition of food, water, and even dust—reflected in the isotopic compositions of human tissue.
Analysis showed the man likely spent most of his life in Australia.