Have you ever stopped to consider your origins? These are the kinds of questions that anthropologists try to answer on a daily basis.
One of the questions that scientists wonder about has to do with eye color. Blue eyes seem to be somewhat of a scientific anomaly, and they wanted to see if they could unlock the mystery of the origins of this unique trait.
To discover the origins of blue eyes, scientists went way, way back by about 128 generations.
Going back that far can get pretty complicated, but scientists think they’ve found where and when this trait originated.
They believe that every pair of baby blues in the world today is descended from a single individual, who lived in Europe about 6,000-10,000 years ago.
Up until then, it’s believed that all humans had brown eyes, but the emergence of a gene known as OCA2 began causing changes in the amount of pigment the body produced.
This mutation led to different shades of brown and, eventually, to different colors altogether.
With this information, the scientists were able to pinpoint the origins of blue eyes specifically.
In 2006, scientists discovered HERC2, the gene specifically responsible for blue eyes, in a well-preserved body of a Stone Age man was found in Spain.
Tests revealed the presence of genes found in African populations as well as genes found in modern Scandinavians. It’s thought that this unique genetic mixture is what resulted in the first blue-eyed mutation.
According to Dr. Carles Lalueza-Fox at the Institute of Evolutionary Biology in Barcelona, this is the oldest known specimen with this gene. This means that this man was the first of his kind and the ancestor to all blue-eyed people today.
If you have blue eyes, this might be a picture of your great-great-great-great-great-great-grandfather.
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